Biggest disappointment not playing at highest level
By Sean Devers
Forty-three-year-old Vishal Nagamootoo may have the flashy looks of a Bollywood movie star but the former Guyana Keeper has a high pedigree of cricketing blood running through his veins.
His uncle on his father’s side is the legendary Rohan Kanhai who was inducted into the ICC Cricket Hall of Fame in 2009, while his mother’s brothers are former West Indies Captain Alvin Kallicharran, former Guyana and West Indies ‘B’ leg-spinner Derrick Kallicharran.
His elder brother is former West Indies Test leg-spinner Mahendra Nagamootoo and just for good measure his Uncle Mosses Nagamootoo is Guyana’s Prime Minister.
Vishal migrated to the USA in 2005 and has a daughter; Simran Nagamootoo who was born on September 18, 2017 to Padmini Rambalak.
Now a Barber in the US, Vishal first played for Berbice U-19s at age 16 before making his National U-19 debut in 1993.
He played up to 2006 when he Captained Guyana to Championship honours. Vishal played during the period when Guyana dominated Regional U-19 three-day cricket. Guyana won a record six titles from 1992-1997.
Vishal played five Youth Tests and six Youth ODIs for West Indies and toured Pakistan with the West Indies U-19 team. He was Vice-Captain when Pakistan U-19s toured the West Indies in October 1996.
The Berbician played the last of his 61 First-Class matches against the Leewards in Essequibo on March 14, 2005 at age 28 after making his debut in February 1996, against Barbados.
Vishal was Guyana’s first-choice wicket-keeper for almost a decade. However, he missed part of the 2002 season when he was recovering from a car accident.
He scored just one century for Guyana; 115 not out against West Indies B during the 2003 Carib Beer Cup.
Vishal scored 1,306 runs a century and two fifties and had 116 dismissals including 17 stumpings in First-Class cricket.
He made 56 against England for Guyana in 1998 when Everest hosted its first ever First-Class match, while in 2002 against India ‘A’ he scored 78 for GCB President’s XI. He also made 32 against South Africa ‘A’ for Guyana in 2000.
In a 31-match List ‘A’ career which began in 1997 and ended against Barbados at Discovery Bay in Jamaica on October 19, 2003, he had 27 catches and 11 and Stumpings.
In 2009, Vishal followed up his first round century with a brilliant unbeaten 103 for United Sports in the New York league and informed that his batting had improved tremendously since migrating to the USA.
At that time, Vishal was not yet qualified to represent the USA Internationally and when he became qualified his best days were gone. He is no longer involved in cricket in NYC.
In the US, Vishal played for Everest, Vikings, Empire, United Sports and Vikings in New Jersey, mainly as batsman who bowled off-spin.
Anthony Bramble (256), Milton Pydanna (188), Derwin Christian (123), Vishal Nagamootoo (116) and Robert Christiani (108) are the Guyanese keepers with 100 First-Class dismissals.
Cyril Christiani, Robert Christiani, Clifford McWatt, Ivor Mendonca and Rohan Kanhai are the only Guyanese to keep in a Test match. Pydanna played three ODIs.
Vishal was born January 7, 1977, in the Village of Whim, Corentyne, Berbice, to Simon Nagamootoo and Mavis Kallicharran and attended the McGowan Primary and Corentyne Comprehensive High School.
“I became interested in cricket because my father would take me and Mahendra to cricket when he played for Whim Nationals,” said Vishal.
After Primary School, Vishal would play softball at the Whim ground which was opposite where they lived before joining Whim Nationals.
Vishal became a keeper when Mahendra started bowling in the yard and had no one to stop the ball as Vishal wore electrical gloves.
“My U-19 days were tough and challenging, you had to be disciplined and fit…. the coaches were not easy and the selectors did not stand nonsense. There was no room for error,” revealed Vishal whose favourite cricketer is former West Indies Keeper Jeff Dujon.
He said scoring 96 and effecting five dismissals against the Windwards was his most memorable game for Guyana at U-19 level.
Vishal made his senior Berbice debut after Feroze Khan turned up late for practice after missing the ‘Blairmount Boat’ which
crossed the Berbice River because he had to perform a chore for his wife.
The depression of being dropped and the pressure of providing for his family trigged Khan into a state of mental instability resulting is him using ‘drugs’. A few years later, Khan, one of the best young Keepers to play for Guyana, was found dead in a trench.
“I got a call from Coach Albert Smith saying to turn up at Blairmont the day before the game since the first choice Keeper was ill. I was shocked at the news of my selection but scored 49. That’s how I began Keeping for Berbice,” said Vishal.
“My most memorable moment playing for Guyana was winning the 2003 Red Strip Bowl in Jamaica under the captaincy of Shiv (Chanderpaul) when I was judged the best Wicket-Keeper in the tournament,” said Vishal, whose biggest disappointment was not representing the West Indies at the highest level.
Vishal also spoke about his 198-run ninth wicket stand with Reon Griffith against West Indies ‘B’ in 2003.
In that game, in St Croix, Vishal and Reon Griffith joined forces at 158-8 and took Guyana to 356-8 declared which is still a Guyana record.
“Myself and Griffith batted together after we were in trouble. Was a great experience having my buddy friend in a record partnership. Throughout the innings we kept encouraging each other …he said bat on Vish don’t get carried away it’s your first century. I ended on 115 and he 82, we declared. I was disappointed that he could not get a hundred but I guess the team comes first,” said Vishal, who added that the fastest bowler had ever faced was Franklin Rose.
Vishal was a neat and nimble Keeper and competent batsmen but he never produced the runs his ability suggested he should have
“I don’t think I fulfilled my batting talent, also I batted very late for Guyana, most times at number nine. It was not until I came to the US and batted higher I started getting big scores consistently,” explained Vishal who said that Colin Stuart and Reon King were the quickest bowlers he kept to.
Vishal, who said he enjoyed Keeping more than batting, said the best spinners he kept to were Neil McGarrell, Mahendra and Trinidadian Avidesh Samaroo.
“The main difference between club cricket in Guyana now and when we played is the absence of former national players who are overseas or stop going to cricket. Another difference is the amount of club cricket being played now and the lack of three-day cricket.
When I started playing we played for love. We played with pride, passion and respect. That’s not the case now. Because the standard of first division cricket has dropped, many U-19 players are now senior players in their clubs and money seems the most important thing for most of them,” said Vishal who played first division Cricket for Port Mourant and Blairmont in Berbice, GCC in Georgetown and Monroe Road in Trinidad before going to New York.
Vishal feels that for local cricket to improve you have start with schools.
“Send Coaches to schools, if you have strong school teams and strong clubs, local cricket can improve but all the boards have to work together for this to happen,” said Vishal who attended some games when he was here last year.
“My advice to young Keepers is to work hard, stay focus, stay fit, do a lot of Keeping drills, work on your batting since the modern Keeper has to score centuries and stay away from drugs.”
Vishal said the main people who have helped him during his career are his parents, uncle’s Derrick, Alvin and Moses Nagamootoo, whom he lived with in Lilliendaal for most of his career.
“I thank the late Lionel Peters, Mr Singh from SinghSports, Boyo Mohabir from Liberty Gold, Coach Albert Smith and the late Pat Legal and Ivor Mendoza, Dr Puran Singh from Barbados, Annand and Mohan from Jamaica for their help,” concluded Vishal.
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