Fans Want Chanderpaul Recalled for Tests

Fans Want Chanderpaul Recalled for Tests

Photo : Shivnarine Chanderpaul

As a West Indian watching IPL cricket in India, questions and comments inevitably arise among fans about the poor state of West Indies cricket that has hit rock bottom. Indian fans query why Shivnarine Chanderpaul, who has been doing so well in first class cricket, is not in the Test team to strengthen its performance and give the team a fighting chance in so many matches it needlessly lost. Chanders, Indian fans say, could have helped to save several matches recently lost as he did throughout his career for Guyana, West Indies and other teams. Indians recognize and salute talent and Chanders has great cricket ability even at this late age of 42.

Chanders is in the heart of every Indian sports enthusiast. In fact, India worships Chanders as a hero although he is not playing for India. Indians see Chanders as a great cricketer. His achievement, they note, is a glaring example of his being a legendary cricketer as he has set or broken so many batting records. They give him a lot of respect. Indians feel he should not have been discarded. Ironically, fans in the West Indies feel Chanders or Tiger, as they call him, is a victim of race. The WI board does not want an Indian to hold the record for most test runs – plain and simple, say fans in NYC. Chander’s fans feel there is no better batsman in the West Indies currently given his consistent performance.

Chanders is a legend. You can’t read his batting stats any other way. You can’t watch him play and think any different. He served Guyana and the region with pride and dignity. He has had a super career for the region. His service will always be remembered. No one can fill the void left behind by Chanders. This old man is a warrior whose example cannot be found in the Caribbean. He has been the region’s most successful batsman. He has achieved this landmark only through his commitment to the game and because he wants to score runs.

It has been tough to replace him; and West Indies has had to work so hard in Tests without him losing so many matches. But West Indies Board does not think so, and so the Board has unceremoniously dumped Chanders. The Board has made Chanders a champion in isolation and then the focus of hatred. Many feel Chanders has been dumped from the team so he would not break Brian Lara record – with Chanders just 200 runs shy of Lara’s aggregate. Lara, himself, says he has no objection to Tiger breaking his record. But the West Indies cricket Board will not permit it as it does not want Chanders to hold the record of the highest aggregate of runs by a West Indian. Chanders fans in India, the Caribbean and USA say that is most unfortunate. That is racist and fans around the globe must condemn the action of the WIndies Board.Every West Indian must give Chanders the kind of respect he deserves and call for his reinstatement in the team to play a last series in front of a home crowd as is the norm of every cricketing nation towards its hero. With Pakistan in a home series, Chanders should be recalled to play a final game in the region. His recent performance shows he is still fit to play. So why not let him play his final test against Pakistan.

The legendary batsman has set many records which are a testimony of his greatness. So much depended on his brad shoulders in so many matches; so many times he rescued Guyana and West Indies. But the WI Board does not care about performance or ranking of the team or their own reputation – its primary concern is that Chanders must not break Brian Lara’s record for the most runs. Nothing else matters to the Board. The Board blames Clive Lloyd and the selectors for excluding Chanders from the team two years ago while the selectors said they were instructed to leave out Chanders from the team. West Indies has had to work very hard in Tests without him and in fact the team has lost almost every match without Chanders, and he has been performing better than every other player in first class matches. Leaving out Chanders from the team is beyond logic and cricket. It is an act based of racial ideology and hate.

Chanders has made immense contribution to Guyana as well. He has set many records for WIndies which prove his greatness, and whenever he played, he did so with his heart and commitment. He was not intimidated by pace or bouncers or the swears from opponents. He played with his head on.

And for all of that, no thank you has been given to Chanders for his continuous support to Guyana or the region’s cricket. The government of Guyana has let down Chanders by not speaking up for him and making a case why he should be given an honorable exit like that of Sachin Tendulkar, Michael Clarke or Jacques Kallis for their country. Tiger deserves better.

Tiger has defeated bowlers of every country from the great Australians to the Indians. He conquered the aggression of the Australians, Pakistani and British. Behind him there is not a single cricketer who has his class in the region to stand up to intimidating pace. He has been a permanent feature at the crease for over twenty years. He calmly dealt with bowlers in Tests and was also very aggressive in one dayers and 20/20. There are so many images of Chanders winning a Test, or saving a Test, or avoiding a follow on, or just enjoying his time out in the middle scoring at his own pace. No one is like him. Almost all of the players have no people behind them. And often, Chanders is the only person in the middle holding the team together as it collapses early in an innings. His style of batting can be right called Chandersistic – calm, steady and productive. He is a run machine. He enjoys batting; he played the ball on merit seeking to avoid mistakes. And he concentrated on ball to ball, keeping his eyes on the ball which is very difficult. His rare quality is he never was afraid of any bowler, spin or fast.

The Board has disrespected and insulted this legend by excluding him from the team so as to protect Lara’s record. The Board has demoted this legend. The West Indies Board has turned Tiger into a ghost although his fitness has been so extraordinary that he can still play for another year or more.

The WI Board needs to immediately reverse course and recall the batting legend as being advised even by fans from far away India. Clearly, by his performance, Chanders is not a man who is tired of playing. He is thirsty of scoring more runs. He continues to demonstrate grit and determination to play for country and region. And he has excelled in county cricket in UK this year scoring back to hundreds.

The WI Board should give him a final role if not as a player, then as a player manager so that the youngsters can benefit from the treasure of his experience.