It was no surprise that a man who transcended many ethnicities, cultures, and sports would be recognized and honored for his many contributions to sport, and in particular cricket in the Caribbean. Joseph Anthony “Reds” Perreira is in many ways a true son of the Caribbean and indeed a Caribbean man, recognized for his almost 50 years as a cricket commentator, broadcaster, journalist and sports administrator throughout the Caribbean. A task he is quick to acknowledge, though a job was a pleasure and one he felt obligated to perform with duty and diligence, and out of respect for his audience.
The Indo-Caribbean Federation (ICF) of North America; a 28 year old New York based socio-cultural and charitable organization, despite the ethnic suggestion of its name, also transcends cultural boundaries, having honored former West Indies Test players such as Basil Butcher, Raphick Jumadeen, Bernard Julien, Leonard Baichan, and Sew Shivarnarine, in addition to first-class cricketers Romain Etwaroo, Kamal Singh, Gary Nascimento, Sudesh Dhaniram, Derek Kallicharran and Zamin Amin. For the past 23 years the ICF has organized a limited overs cricket match between representative teams from Guyana and Trinidad & Tobago in New York City.
Team Guyana has been on the winning end for the majority of clashes during the long-standing rivalry, however, this year Team Guyana faced a Trinidad & Tobago Invitational XI featuring Faisal Taj a young Pakistani batsman with a penchant for scoring runs and taking wickets. The match was the icing on the cake for the event that headlined the legendary Reds Perreira, and the acknowledgement of his many accomplishments since becoming a sports commentator. As the honored guest of ICF President Ralph Tamesh, his family and the federation’s executive body, Reds was very appreciative of the hospitality extended him in the whirlwind visit to the Big Apple, remarking, “I am humbled by the affection, love and hospitality extended me by everyone I have met while here (in New York City).”
Joseph Anthony “Reds” Perreira has been an icon in the Caribbean sports arena since his first commentary gig in 1961, at a then British Guiana vs. Trinidad & Tobago match at Berbice, Guyana. He has since done146 Tests and over 300 ODIs, touring England, Australia, India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, New Zealand, South Africa and Zimbabwe. Reds has been honored by the governments of Guyana (Arrow of Achievement) and most recently St. Lucia (Medal of Merit).
As Sports Director of the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) from 1984 to 1996, the kid who dreamed of a career in broadcasting was involved in almost every competitive sport discipline in the Caribbean, and today is still involved. Later this year, he will accompany four boxers from St. Lucia to Chile.
As a member of the Caribbean Broadcasting Union (CBU), Reds teamed up with the legendary Tony Cozier for many a West Indies cricket tour to the Full Member nations of the International Cricket Council, and the duo was recognized for their individual styles of commentary, as well as their invaluable contributions to cricket.
Reds Perreira touted as the boy from humble beginnings along the Pomeroon River in Guyana to the cricket commentary booth at Lords, joined the New York duo of Lenny Achaibar and Carl Bennett in doing a spot of commentary at the ICF’s Guyana vs. T&T Invitational XI match at the Floyd Bennett Cricket Field in Brooklyn, last Saturday. Achaibar and Bennett, some may argue, are the New York metropolitan area’s “Reds Perreira” and “Tony Cozier.” Known for their inimitable commentary styles, the two along with Reds saw victory elude Team Guyana this time around, as the T&T Invitational XI rallied behind the match’s MVP Faisal Taj (4 for 36 and 119 not out). Taj would later comment, “It was a dream to be batting in the match and have the legendary Reds Perreira commentating.”
Team Guyana led by USA national all-rounder Karan Ganesh batted first and despite a solid opening stand of 86 between former West Indies Under-19 star Richard Ramdeen (43) and US national player Andy Mohammed (40), were restricted to 205 for 9 off the allotted 35 overs. Other notable contributions came off the bats of Ryan Girdhary (40) and skipper Ganesh (32). Bowling for the T&T Invitational XI, mystery spinner Faisal Taj got 4 for 36 off 6 overs, while his skipper and veteran wily off-spinner Glenn Lorick captured 3 for 25 off 6 overs.
In reply, the T&T Invitational XI were in early trouble losing their first two wickets with the score on 19 in the fourth over, as Hyron Shallow was on the receiving end of a first-ball duck, compliments of Telston Johnson. However, a magnificent 101 run partnership evolved between Faisal Taj and Dervell Green; put the bridesmaid T&T in a commanding position before a sizable crowd, and eventually defeating Guyana by 6 wickets.
Some highlights of the match were Taj’s blistering and unbeaten 119 off just 81 deliveries (11x6s, 4x4s). Dervell Green in a fine demonstration of stroke play enjoyed a classy knock of 45 off 25 balls, including 7x4s, five of which were successive fours off the bowling of Guyana’s Hemindra Ramdihal in the tenth over. A jubilant Glen Lorick appeared relieved while hoisting the ICF Championship trophy presented by Reds Perreira, after so many years of being on the losing end.
It was an enjoyable match played under perfect weather conditions, as many cricket fans showed up to pay tribute to the man of the moment Reds Perreira. In addition to a beautiful plaque presented to Reds by the ICF, he also received a glowing Proclamation from New York City Council Member Leroy Comrie, and read by New York political and labor consultant Charles “Chuck” Mohan. Later the same evening, Reds received a Citation in recognition of his contributions to Caribbean sports culture, from New York City Council Member Ruben Wills, during a Dave Martin concert at the Resorts International Casino in Queens, NY.
The affable Reds Perreira has shared commentaries with world-renowned broadcasters such as John Arlot, Jim Maxwell, Henry Blofeld, Alan McGilvray, Dicky Rutnagur, and Christopher Martin-Jenkins. Reds attributed much of his success as a sports broadcaster to the encouragement and support he received from his mother, who often was his applauding audience as he did imaginary sports commentary in his room as a youngster. The author of “Living My Dreams: an autobiography that chronicles his life as a sports commentator and sports administrator, still has many stories to tell, and we all hope that the septuagenarian plans on telling those shortly.
In a farewell reception hosted by the ICF and held at the offices of Frank Singh of Marine Funding, Reds Perreira held court for more than an hour, as he relived moments of his career and fielded numerous questions from a battery of inquisitive cricketing minds. The now St. Lucia resident even did an over of commentary from the 1975 Prudential World Cup Final with Clive Lloyd at bat and the West Indies down 50 for 3. His one over commentary of Lloyd arriving at the wicket and taking control of the bowling from Dennis Lillee and Jeff Thompson, was delivered so realistically, that one felt transported almost 40 years back in time, but as real as if it was streamed live at the moment.
It was indeed a treat.
Lenny Achaibar contributed to this story.