West Indies, on tour in Australia for a three Test series, is without its most prolific run scorer Shivnarine Chanderpaul who has been left out of the team because of underperformance. Yet, almost all the others on tour have performed worse than Chanderpaul. The team lost its two warm-up games performing badly, and the Test performance is not expected to be any better. If Chanderpaul were with the team, he would have strengthened the middle order and been a psychological boost to the youngsters to stand up and bat rather than cave in meekly. In addition, his presence would have put fear in the opponents troubling them to make errors to benefit W Indies. Chanderpaul should be immediately recalled to the team.
In a news report in the Australian media, Cricket Australia has lamented the weak team touring Australia and the absence of star player Chanderpaul on the squad for the three Test matches. Chanderpaul sells while most of the others in the squad cannot be sold; nobody really wants to see them in action because of their unreliable performance. Cricket Australia is worried about reduced revenues resulting from the non-attractiveness of most of the players from Captain (Jason Holder) to tailender. Cricket Australia and broadcasters in the West Indies miss Chanderpaul to attract attendance at games and TV revenues. Also, sports clubs in Queens and Brooklyn worry about poor turnout at their bars with the absence of the ace batsman in the games.
Chanderpaul is a revenue earner for West Indies and world cricket. He brings money to the game (with sponsorship, ads, viewership, attendance, etc), to the W Indies and to Australia and broadcasters in general. There is unfettered adulation for Chanderpaul; he has fans who follow him everywhere and who are tuned in to his batting. Some travel to watch games when he is playing around the world. The fact that he is so close to breaking Brian Lara’s record means spectators would come to the matches or watch him bat on TV – good for travel business, hotels, etc.
West Indies needs to give Chanders a final hurrah similar to what India and other nations gave their sports heroes. He deserves such a send-off fit for a hero. He has helped to make West Indian cricket. He is the West Indies real sports icon. Chanders has had a squeaky clean image and he has demonstrated tremendous respect for other players in the region as well as globally and to W Indies management. No one can replicate his brand in the West Indies.
West Indies fortunes are declining. The board is virtually bankrupt. It needs money. The team and the world need the Chanders brand to ramp up revenues. His contribution to West Indies cricket isn’t over in terms of revenues; sports clubs vie for his presence in Dubai and England. He has earned the right to say goodbye to international tours in a decent way. He should not have been disrespected and dumped. Including him in the team even for the last two Tests will be a win for West Indians and for Cricket Australia. Fans will return to the game and sponsors will show greater interest in the West Indies brand boosting revenues. Chanders should be recalled for a farewell tour of Australia to allow him to say goodbye to fans and cricket colleagues.