Shivnarine Chanderpaul is 45, but he does look quite young. The former West Indies batting icon, who quit the game a couple of years ago, is the manager-cum-assistant coach of the Guyana Jaguars team.
Chanderpaul keeps a tab on international cricket and rates India captain Virat Kohli very highly. In the city for the UnAcademy Road Safety World Series — in which he is representing West Indies Legends — Chanderpaul spoke to Sportstar about West Indies cricket, the importance of longer format of the game and more.
Q. It’s after a while that you will be seen in action. How does it feel to play cricket again with some of the old friends?
A. For the last two years, I’ve been the manager and the assistant coach of the Guyana Jaguars team and I have not played any cricket. But I’ve been around with the Guyana squad, helping the boys at the nets.
You belong to a generation when Test cricket was considered the ultimate format of the game. Now there are proposals to introduce four-day Tests, how do you see it?
Well, it’s a change. In the past, you might have felt that five runs is a lot of runs per over. But T20 cricket has shown that eight-nine runs are possible to get in an over, sometimes, even 15 runs! It shows that the guys have improved their skills and are getting better as batters, bowlers and fielders.
Do you think that Test cricket should actually be reduced to a four-day affair?
It sometimes depends on what kind of wickets you play on. You probably need time in it. I am not too sure if they should tweak the format. I knew Test cricket in one particular way and I liked it. It gave bowlers to go in and do whatever you need to do. You need to pile on the runs and then ask your opposition to chase that. It gave that time to the players. The shorter format is totally different. I like the longer format the way it is.
You have been associated with the Guyana Jaguars. What is your assessment about the current state of West Indies cricket?
There is still a lot of room for improvement. Players need to pick themselves up and get some work done. We have a few coaches around. But you know, it’s not like maybe, England, where they have coaches everywhere you go, to help young players. We don’t have that everywhere in the Caribbean. So, we probably need more of that. There should be people who would help. People who have played the game, and who have knowledge about how the game goes, should help the younger players improve.
The players need to approach the shorter format and the longer formats differently. What are the areas that the young players need to focus on in order to extend their career for long?
Well obviously, in the shorter format, it does not require much skill. You just need strong guys who could hit the ball out [of] the park. Bowlers definitely need skills and the fielders definitely need to sharpen their skills in the shorter format. For the new guys to extend the the career, they need to go to the gym, get stronger. You also need to work a bit on your skills. Technically, you need to be more sound to survive in the longer format of the game.
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But your generation did not have Yo-Yo tests, or fancy training regimes. Even then, you guys had long international careers…
(Smiles) We didn’t have all these tests in place, but we used to do a lot of fitness work. Yeah, we didn’t need to pass any tests, we didn’t need to do all of these things. But one time comes when when we get on the cricket field and be ready for 30-40 game. We used to do a lot of work before [every series]. Whenever the time came, we were ready. That time, we never really played that much cricket. But now, the guys are playing a lot, and sometimes, they want a little break for a week or so. So, when they come back, you do a fitness test and judge accordingly. Sometimes these things happen, but that doesn’t mean that a player or an individual is not fit.
Who do you think is the best batsman at the moment?
Obviously, it’s Virat Kohli. He has been working on all the aspects of his game and the results are showing. He is working hard on his fitness, he works on his skills. You see him putting in the hard work and he is one of those guys, who always wants to do well. He’s proven it, day in and day out. You have to give credit to him for that. It’s not easy to stay at the top of your game for so long. You got to put in your work and the results are showing.
The T20 World Cup is lined up later this year. West Indies is always a tough team in the shortest format. What are your expectations?
Well, West Indies have always had players for the shorter format. Yet again, it all depends on how well you perform on that day, because in T20 format, anybody could win on that day. We always have a lot of match winners, that’s the good thing about us. With the power hitters, good bowlers — they play a major part in the shorter format. So, we still have one of the best T20 squads around. But we still have to go out and play well to win matches. Don’t take anyone lightly, play as hard as we can, and we will win.
Your son, Tagenarine Chanderpaul, burst into the scene with lots of promises. What’s up with him these days?
Well, my son has been getting one or two scores in between. He is trying there. I am with them, but there is not much I can tell him right now. He has got some work to get done, to improve his skills and get better. He is still young and needs more time. I need to spend more time with him, whenever there is opportunity, and get some work done with him.