West Indies’ best batsman talks about his purple patch, the team’s failures, and why he isn’t looking to lead
Interview by Jason Dasey
August 14, 2008
Shivnarine Chanderpaul has been Bradmanesque over the last 15 months, and is hungry for many more runs in different corners of the globe. There is no doubt that after Brian Lara’s retirement Chanderpaul, who turns 34 in a couple of days, is the Caribbean’s best batsman. Despite West Indies’ ongoing struggles to win at international level, he has been in a different class of late. In his last 11 Tests, beginning with the England tour, he has scored five hundreds in his 1265 runs at 105.41. In 18 ODIs over the same period, he has scored two centuries and six half-centuries in his 800 runs at 88.88. Making runs is what he is best at and making runs is what he remains focused on. “I have already served my time as captain” he tells Cricinfo SportsCenter.
How do you explain the fantastic batting year you’ve had, which even exceeds what you achieved in 2007?
It is a result of hard work and dedication to my game. I have spent countless hours in the nets, practising, exercising and keeping fit, working to fine-tune my skills. I am extremely thankful to God for his guidance. I have set myself a number of goals, and I am working towards achieving them. I have to remain focused and continue to work for the betterment of West Indies cricket.
How are you going about taking your batting to the next level, in both ODIs and Test cricket?
I work on spending long hours at the crease, shot execution and shot selection. Preservation of my wicket is very important. You can only make runs when you are at the crease. I try to block all the other stuff out, and just focus on the approaching ball. I work on one ball at a time.
You’ve achieved big scores against some very tough bowling attacks. What three innings over the past 12 months or so do you consider your finest?
My innings versus England at Old Trafford should be considered a very good one. It was a very difficult track, and my team was in a very difficult situation.
The one in Port Elizabeth versus South Africa was also special. We won the Test match. This was also a wicket where you had to work hard for runs, especially when you were facing up to the cream of the South African bowling. The other one would be my innings against the Australians in Jamaica. It was a very strong Aussie attack and the wicket was jumping around a bit.
How long do you see yourself playing for?
I’m focused on my international cricket. I would like to see myself playing a few more years. I am currently on contract with Durham, the IPL, and of course West Indies. Cricket at the international level is what I strive for. I would like to be there for a while and achieve some of my goals.
How close are West Indies to breaking through to winning the close matches they are currently losing?
We are working with our new coach [John Dyson] to break this barrier. As a group we are very focused on trying to take West Indies cricket to the next level. We would definitely like to get ourselves back to the glory years of the 1980s. It would come from having the right infrastructure, the discipline and dedication of the players, management working together with the players, and the use of newer technology.
What circumstances would need to be in place for you to consider another stint as West Indies captain?
I have already served my time as captain. I have no ambition of doing it again. I served very faithfully in my capacity as captain, and will continue to serve as a player. I would fully support my captain at all times.
Your year will finish with some interesting matches. What are your thoughts on playing in the Stanford Superstars match and in the Hong Kong Cricket Sixes, both in November?
I am very excited to be given the opportunity to play in the Stanford Superstars tournament. Mr Stanford arrived on the scene at the right time to give West Indies cricket a shot in the arm. It may very well make an impact on introducing the game to the North American market, which is very crucial in spreading the game. Most of the infrastructure is already in place, and I am sure Mr Stanford would love to capture this market.
I played in the Hong Kong Sixes some years ago. It was a great experience. I am looking forward to the tournament, and linking up with some of my cricketing friends.
Also, the Sarasota International Cricket Club (SICC) in the USA, where I live, has been hosting an annual six-a-side tournament during the Thanksgiving weekend [November 27th to 30th]. This year will be their 15th year. I have played in several of their festivals, and the format is very fast-paced and exciting.
Jason Dasey is a host of Cricinfo SportsCenter and two international editions of SportsCenter on ESPN