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A THORNY ISSUE: Shiv deserves special honour

ANDI THORNHILL, [email protected]

A THORNY ISSUE: Shiv deserves special honour

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IT IS NEVER too late for a shower of rain.

I believe it is timely for the West Indies Cricket Board (WICB) to have a proper send-off for the legendary Shivnarine Chanderpaul, who has now officially retired from international cricket.

I think many would share the recent sentiments of Brian Lara, who said last week that the Guyanese was poorly treated last year when his Test career was brought to an abrupt end after poor returns in back-to-back series against India and South Africa.

Lara would have preferred if Chanderpaul was given the opportunity to say goodbye in the home series against England. Many people shared that belief, but it was the selectors who had the final say and they didn’t agree. It looked ugly, but nobody could turn back the hands of time.

He gave so much to West Indies cricket, but was given the boot. I was among those who felt that he should have walked before he was pushed, given how some of his predecessors were dealt with once it seemed that their shelf life would soon expire.

Dreaded moment

Chanderpaul chose to wait for the dreaded moment, perhaps believing that the selectors would have given him two last Tests to surpass Lara’s aggregate as the most prolific run getter at that level.

That home series, too, would have been the appropriate time for the West Indies to give him the royal send-off he deserved. Not long before that, India had done a similar thing for batting great Sachin Tendulkar and maybe Chanderpaul thought he would have been a beneficiary of a similar kind of treatment.

The difference, obviously is that we seldom operate with the same class, even when individuals merit it. And not many, if any at all, would disagree that Chanderpaul deserved something extra special, if only from the viewpoint that his loyalty to regional cricket has been excellent, perhaps unparalleled.

As a matter of fact, I think the way some current players treat West Indies cricket like it was a play toy, helps to put Chanderpaul’s allegiance and place in history in even greater perspective.

He was always ready to answer any and every call, and furthermore, always gave it his best shot. He was prepared to meet every challenge like foot soldiers tend to do because they believe in the cause and not just the pay cheque.

You could argue that if some of the current players take a leaf out of the left-hander’s book, they would go a long way in helping to restore West Indies cricket to its former glory.

Chanderpaul wasn’t the most gifted or elegant batsman we have produced, but his dedication, commitment, respect for his profession, in addition to his “tigerish” mentality bore lots of fruit for himself and glory for the team.

He became the backbone, while more flamboyant players like Lara flayed bowling attacks. In fact, we can understand Lara’s admiration for him, because in many of his landmarks for the West Indies, Chanderpaul was at the crease with him.

Test harvest

Chanderpaul’s own statistics, though, make out the case why something special has to happen for him. He had a Test harvest of 11 867 runs at an average of 51.37 from 164 matches, leading the team in 14 of them, as well as in 16 One-Day Internationals. He played 268 ODIs, scoring 8 778 runs at an average of 41.60.

He has more than paid his dues and even if only as an afterthought the West Indies Cricket Board has decided to honour him, it is most welcomed and deserving.

I would also expect that the University of the West Indies, as it has done in the past for other illustrious players, will also step forward and play its part.

After all, the likes of Shivnarine Chanderpaul don’t come around too often.

Andi Thornhill is an experienced sports journalist and media consultant.