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Boxing Association Celebrates ‘Reds’ Perreira’s 50th Year in Test Cricket Commentary

The St. Lucia Boxing Association (SLBA) congratulates acclaimed cricket commentator, Joseph “Reds” Perreira, whose Test Match cricket commentary career reached its half century mark on Thursday, June 10, 2021.

Image of Joseph ‘Reds’ Perreira
Joseph ‘Reds’ Perreira

Perreira, now in his early 80s, will mark the occasion by commentating at the first of two Test Matches now being played between West Indies and South Africa at the Daren Sammy Cricket Ground in Beausejour, Gros Islet, Saint Lucia.

“We celebrate yet another milestone made by this sports legend whose commentary over six decades has made us all appreciate the game more than we could have ever imagined,” said SLBA President, David “Shakes” Christopher. “We owe ‘Reds’ a great debt for all he’s done for not only cricket, but for other sporting disciplines, including boxing. For many years now, ‘Reds’ has been instrumental in the development of boxing in Saint Lucia. We thank him immensely for his guidance and contributions over the years.”

Perreira’s debut as a cricket commentator was during a First Class cricket game in 1961 which featured Guyana and Trinidad at Rose Hall in Guyana. He was in his early twenties then, but word spread quickly that he was interested in commentary, having done so for friends at parties and other gatherings.

By 1971, Perreira had graduated to the top rung, covering the First Test Match in the West Indies/India Series which was held at Bourda Cricket Ground in Guyana. That was the beginning of an illustrious career that has made him globally-recognized.

“Whatever I have achieved has been because of people giving me the opportunity,” Perreira said. “Nobody achieves anything by themselves. It’s also about taking advantage of the opportunities and prepare and learn from those opportunities.”

Perreira was born in Pomeroon on the Essequibo Coast in Guyana and moved to the capital, Georgetown, when he was six. He had a serious problem because of his inability to speak fluently and confidently, but, with training and determination to move to the top, he made it.

He played cricket at Saint Mary’s School, the YMCA and the Catholic Guild Club while living in his native Guyana. However, he became infected by the commentary bug in the early 1950s after listening to radio broadcasts of cricket commentary emanating from England and often stayed up late at night to listen to matches being broadcast from the 1951 Australia tour. At first, however, he had to overcome a major challenge.

“I stammered very badly back then, so I was like a racecar driver with bad eyes,” he noted.

Perreira, whose has been living in Saint Lucia for many years, spent twelve years at the OECS Sports Desk — which he created — as a Sports Coordinator and credits his cricket background for his outstanding performance in that position which allowed him to coordinate sporting events and share information among the various sporting clubs and associations within the sub-region.

He has rubbed shoulders with world-renowned commentators like John Arlott, Freddie Trueman, Brian Johnston, Richie Benaud, Alan McGilvray, and his mentor, Tony Cozier.
He covered over 150 Test Matches and broadcast between 300 and 400 other matches, including ODIs and First Class games.

He reported from all the cricketing nations of the world, except Bangladesh. He covered the 1975 Prudential World Cup, the controversial Kerry Packer series, and games in South Africa during the Apartheid days.

In 2019, the veteran commentator was recognized by Cricket West Indies (CWI) for his sterling contribution to the game over the past six decades. A letter dated July 2, 2019, signed by CWI’s President, Ricky Skerritt, noted that, “CWI is indeed appreciative of your sterling contribution to the promotion of West Indies cricket and the development of cricket commentary in the region.”

Perreira’s live commentary of a Test Match at Sabina Park in Jamaica in the West Indies vs India 2019 Series was his 150th Test Match as a live commentator. A brief recognition ceremony was held on the field on the third day of that match (September 3) for the famed commentator whose vast knowledge of the game has inspired many cricket commentators.

That same year, the Saint Lucia Hospitality & Tourism Association (SLHTA) also recognized Perreira for his outstanding contributions to the development and coverage of sports.

Perreira’s advice to anyone wanting to get involved in cricket commentary is simple: “Prepare to be able to work on your own sometimes, doing imaginary commentaries as I did. Work with little radio stations to provide 10-minute reports and, slowly but surely, establish yourself. Just tell the story of the game – don’t get involved in the politics of the game. Stick to the cricket.”

Perreira also shared a concern that the game is losing a large part of its soul: “The worrying thing is that not too many radio stations are carrying cricket commentary anymore. It’s no longer like years ago when each regional station did so. Live cricket broadcasts and even cricket commentary are fast disappearing from radio in the region.”

Perreira has also written a book on his life and work, entitled “Living My Dreams”.

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