I was in Trinidad during the Guyana v Trinidad match at Queens Park Oval two weeks ago, and again last week when W Indies played Australia in St Lucia. Everywhere I went, people were high in praise for veteran batsman Shivnarine Chanderpaul. “The old man can still bat,” was how some Trinis described him. Others continue to say he remains the West Indies most dependable batsman, and they question why he is being excluded from the team for the one-dayers. Even Chanders himself does not understand why he is not playing, given that he did so well in England last summer and is in form during the regional tournament scoring runs. Chanders has gotten contracts in several countries for the 20/20 format of the game. So scoring runs fast is not an issue.
Many Trinis say Shiv is the most productive one-day player and who can bat at any number. He successfully opened the batting many times scoring tons and going down the order at number 6 making quick runs. He is a reliable player in any format of the game. He can compete with any Aussie and West Indian player currently on the team. He remains the backbone of the WI team in Tests and 50 overs and should be an automatic selection well ahead of others. Most of those currently on the W Indies side are so mediocre they wouldn’t even be selected by Zimbabwe or Bangladesh or Ireland. On the other hand, the batting quality of Chanders would make him an automatic selection in top teams like Australia, England or India.
In Trinidad, questions are still being asked why Darren Sammy is still in the team, his 83 in the final one-day game and his 35 in another match notwithstanding. Everywhere, people say he caused W Indies not to win the third match which ended in a tie. His bowling remains mediocre.
And it is felt had he not been the captain, he wouldn’t be playing, for he lacks merit as a batsman and as a bowler. Sammy has not shown special qualities as a captain and he does not command much respect from the players. Sammy should make way for other more deserving players.
West Indies cannot compete against top class teams without our best players and a deserving captain. Chanderpaul is among the best and top ranked players, and he is most necessary in the WI team. With the aging Chanders having just a couple of years remaining in his cricket life, the W Indies should also include him in the one-dayers so the youngsters can learn from his gritty style.
Also, with Narsingh Deonarine batting and bowling well, he should be considered for selection as an all rounder ahead of Sammy and some of the others who have failed.