Chanderpaul: Proper farewell? Sometimes it doesn’t happen that way

Shivnarine Chanderpaul signed off from international cricket last month, without quite the farewell that he (and his fans) expected, but fans can continue to watch him play for Gemini Arabians in the Masters Champions League.

Shivnarine Chanderpaul's stats were almost as good as Brian Lara’s, and yet he remained a very under-valued and under-rated cricketer   -  AP

Perhaps, the most striking aspect of Shivnarine Chanderpaul’s batting was his ‘crab-like’ stance, where he faces up to the bowler front-on, and moves into a more conventional position as the ball is delivered. He adopted this stance to get a “two-eyed” view of the bowler, something which he “developed during the course of his long career”. So much so that once when Brett Lee ran in to bowl to Chanderpaul in a Test match at the ’Gabba, he had to enquire whether the batsman was ready. All this, and 11,867 Test runs in a little over two decades made him one among the modern-day greats.

He was a prolific run-scorer for the Windies in the 2000s, often waging a lone battle in the face of great odds. His stats were almost as good as Brian Lara’s, and yet he remained a very under-valued and under-rated cricketer. The 41-year-old signed off from international cricket last month, without quite the farewell that he (and his fans) expected, but fans can continue to watch him play for Gemini Arabians in the Masters Champions League — a T20 tournament hosted by the Emirates Cricket Board for former international cricketers.

He talks about his unique stance; Rohan Kanhai’s influence on his batting; playing with Brian Lara; among other things.

Excerpts:

You managed to keep your own standards remarkably high despite the team not winning many games during your career.

Yes. There was a standard that I kept for myself, and it was really high. It didn’t matter which game I played, be it a warm-up match or backyard cricket, I always tried to maintain my standard and not drop it because whatever you practice, you have to go out and do it when the real time comes around.

You've said that no other batsman has influenced you as much as Rohan Kanhai.

When I first entered the team, he was the coach, and he helped me a lot, talked to me a lot and made me understand the nuances of batting. So, he played a major part in my career.

You had an unusually open stance which confounded cricket aficionados for years. What is the story behind it?

It’s something that I developed over the years. It helped me with my balance; batting is all about balance and being as straight as possible. And that is something which I worked on over the years just to make sure that I am not falling over, which I was in the beginning of my career.

Your contributions to West Indies cricket have been immense — facing up to some of the deadliest bowling attacks in the world, across varied playing conditions, and most often with very little support from the other end. What according to you was your greatest contribution to West Indies cricket?

In the period where we were struggling big time, we needed someone to hold the team together and also produce the goods. There was a lot of pressure...it was not an easy job to do. So, doing battle for so many years with all this pressure on me was probably my greatest contribution.

Brian Lara. How was it like playing alongside him?

It was great playing alongside him. He was one of those guys who was a pleasure to watch and be with.

Cricket fans felt that you thoroughly deserved a proper farewell.

Sometimes, it doesn't happen that way. A lot of the guys who are around now could probably be treated the same way. And those who played in my time also got treated the same way… and I was the last of that group of guys who played in that era and received the same kind of treatment at the back-end of their careers. Everybody can think whatever they want... but that’s not the way you will be treated in the Caribbean. The Caribbean is one of those places where when the players are finished, they are just thrown to the side and are done with. That’s how things operate there.

West Indies cricket has collapsed. Is there a solution to the problems? Can a nation which produced the likes of Learie Constantine, George Headley, ‘the three Ws’, Clive Lloyd, Vivian Richards, and the fearsome quartet of fast bowlers, ever be as successful again?

I don’t know if they can be as successful. Right now, we have a lot of talent in the Caribbean…and a lot of the past players are present, who can help get the job done. It’s not that the board (WICB) does not have money. They have the money and they have to spend it on developing new cricketers. Anyways, all this is not my area.

But would you consider playing a role in West Indies cricket in future now that you have retired from the game?

I would love to, but then it’s not going to be easy because cost (money) is a major factor. You can’t get much out of that…and I don’t think even as a coach you’re going to get much of it either.

As a solution, do you think the West Indies should be disbanded and allowed to play ‘country-wise’ — like Barbados, Guyana, Trinidad & Tobago etc.?

It’s a good idea, but I am not sure if every individual country in the Caribbean can have a strong enough team to compete in international cricket.

We haven’t seen the last of Shivnarine Chanderpaul thanks to the Masters Champions League. How has the whole experience been so far?

I’ve been out here in the UAE for a few days; we played a couple of practice matches, and against one of the teams we scored 138 runs. It was a club side, but they knocked it off, despite us having some quality bowlers in the team! So, the standard of club cricket here is very high when compared to the Caribbean. The experience has been great so far...we have some of the legends of the game out here, like Lara, Saqlain Mushtaq and Muttiah Muralitharan among others. We have been playing some exciting cricket and dishing out exciting games, so hopefully a lot more people come out and support us.

Talk to us about Tagenarine (his son). How do you see his career progressing?

He got some runs in the last first class game that he played. He scored a fifty and Guyana ended up winning the match. But he’s been a bit on & off... needs to be more consistent.

And he bats a lot like you...

He should play his own way. I will not allow him to bat like me, and copy my stance!