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Friday, May 29, 2015

Is it curtains for doughty Shivnarine Chanderpaul ! ~ way of WI Board officials !!!

One may not be a fan of his crouched stance ~not the same when it comes to his utility and scoring – on that big day in Nov  2013,  at Wankhede Test no. 2102  - naturally, Sachin Tendulkar garnered all attention.  It was SRT 200 – his fare well test – the opponents WI aggregated only 166 against Sachin’s perfect 200.  He played alongside Bhuvaneswar Kumar and Mohammad Shami,  who were not even born when he made his debut ! On that special occasion, Clive Lloyd presented a cap to another man  who debuted in 1994 and played his 150th test at Wankhede ~  the dependable leftie has now  played 164 tests 280 innings scoring 11867 runs with 30 centuries and 66 fifties; in  268 One dayers he has made 8778 runs with 11 tons. 

IPL 2015 – the 8th season is over – MI was crowned – with every IPL, some youngsters rise to the limelight and some fade away.  There could be a big list of players from whom much was expected but they failed .....  to me Virender Sehwag and Yuvraj Singh in that list would sadden.  There would be the Q on whether they have played their last innings.  Not all retirements have been pleasant.  Many a players have been treated rather shabbily in their twilight .... remember that the greatest bowler of India, Kapil Dev who hurried the opponents to wear helmets in his debut – was once hit for 20 runs in an over in a ODI towards his end career [was that Phil Simmons !] – he was returning to bowl the next over, when he was rudely stopped by Azhar and ball thrown to somebody else.

In Politics, heir-apparents are common – many fathers have ensured the career of their sons and daughters.  In Cricket  too, we have seen many of that – in Dec 2013, Tagenarine made his debut as an opener for Guyana; that may not matter much until you read his full name of Chanderpaul yes, son of illustrious father.  The father  Shivnarine Chanderpaul, a dodgy and difficult to dismiss customer who has made tons of runs for West Indies, is now in news.  The man who has kept  his own standards at a remarkably high level despite the perennial problems that West Indies have faced is facing axe. Chanderpaul's contributions have been immense, as he has defied bowling attacks in all countries and all conditions, often with minimal support from the other end.

Shiv Chanderpaul appears set to be dropped for the Test series against Australia after he was left out of West Indies' 12-member group for a pre-series training camp in Barbados.  Chanderpaul could still make it to the Test squad when the final team is decided on May 29, 2015 after the conclusion of the practice match between the Australians and the Board President's XI. The chairman of selectors, Clive Lloyd, however indicated West Indies were keen on looking ahead.  "This was a tough decision for the selection panel to make," Lloyd said. "We recognise the significant contribution Chanderpaul has made to the West Indies teams over the last two decades, but we want to take this opportunity to introduce a number of young, promising players into the squad."

Chanderpaul is 86 short of equalling Brian Lara's record of highest West Indies run-scorer in Tests.  However he would denied that going by what is heard from Clive Lloyd  who feels that over the period there is decline in his form.  In his last 11 innings, he has averaged only 16 ! – but looking at some of the players in the present squad, his class is unlikely to be matched.   Sadly, the West Indies selectors  ahve decided their team has  a greater chance of beating Australia without Shiv Chanderpaul than with him.

For Clive Lloyd, a fellow Guyanese, the decision to jettison a player as respected as Chanderpaul was a difficult one, but ultimately a matter of cricketing logic. In the loose collective of islands that make up the Caribbean it was bound to have created plenty of debate in circles both sporting and political, but Lloyd and the coach Phil Simmons were able to present a united and uncompromising front when explaining their choice of players to face Australia.  To the selectors, he is 40 and not in the shape of what he was .... would apply to every player !

Simmons said that while they had considered the possibility of allowing Chanderpaul one final curtain call against Australia, it would not have been for reasons of sentiment. Once the selectors decided to move on, there was no thought of a farewell tour.  He is quoted as saying - "It's not about giving someone two Tests to finish their career, it's about picking the right team to play the next game." There are plans in the works for an appropriate acknowledgement of Chanderpaul's career, a journey so long that it commenced in 1994, when Simmons was still part of the Test team and West Indies were still proudly in possession of an unbeaten streak that had begun in 1980.

He has been a stubborn customer at the crease and it will be some time before Chanderpaul comes to terms with the decision. That  stubbornness was evident in his refusal to concede that his career was on the wane, leaving Lloyd and Simmons with the difficult task of talking him through their judgment. The training squad of 12 assembled in Barbados will be swelled to 14 following the conclusion of the tour match between the Australians and a WICB President's XI in Antigua, in which numerous young hopefuls will attempt to prove themselves worthy of a Test berth.  The IPL stars are not part of the squad !!!!

Michael Holding, the former West Indies fast bowler, too has backed the chairman of selectors Clive Lloyd's logic of jettisoning Shivnarine Chanderpaul for the Australia series.  Holding echoed sentiments - "Chanderpaul has to make way for someone younger. The person that comes in obviously is not going to fill Chanderpaul's shoes immediately. He has done so much good work for West Indies. But it is time for someone younger than him who can grow into those shoes."

While Chanderpaul's former team-mate, Brian Lara, criticised the 'despicable' treatment meted out to Chanderpaul and called for a farewell series akin to the one arranged by the BCCI for Sachin Tendulkar, Holding said that he had "no problems" with the way the WICB had dealt with the issue.  It appears that Chanderpaul has already played his last International innings.

With legends Clive Lloyd, Mike Holding and Phil Simmons explaining, keeping out Chanderpaul might sound logical …… but do read this ~  the West Indies team which in 1980s looked invincible and had battery of pace bowlers [their support fast bowlers of that age, would easily have walked into any other team !!] has slid so rapidly – the Board and their handling of players has much to do in this.  

Dave Cameron and the WI Board handled the players thoroughly badly leading to their abandoning Indian tour midway in Oct 2014.  This March, there were spate of retirements from players who have some more good years left.  The 31 year old Lendl Simmons, who took Mumbai Indians to victory in IPL 8 announced his retirement following -  Darren Sammy, Dwayne Smith and Darren Bravo.  The dropping and the treatment pushed allrounder Kieron Pollard to take an "indefinite break" from first class cricket in Trinidad and Tobago (T&T). Earlier this season, opening batsman Adrian Barath pulled out of the team saying he, too, was taking a break.  In March, the star  opener Chris Gayle raised the possibility of retiring from Test cricket if his fragile back cannot cope with the increasing workload in a crammed cricket calendar.

Sad for Shivnarine Chanderpaul and more so, for the islands of West Indies.

With regards – S. Sampathkumar

29th May 2015

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