Left-Handed Potential

The following is an article by Haydn Gill from the Red Stripe Quarterly 1993

When Clive Lloyd and Larry Gomes left the Test arena in the early 1980’s,the West Indies middle order lacked a worthy left hander for several years.  Suddenly, three, Keith Arthurton, Brian Lara and Jimmy Adams,all products of the Northern Telecom youth championship,have come forward to suggest that they will serve as the backbone of the batting for the next decade.   Each has already given a hint of promise at the highest level.  Lara’s unforgettable 277 at Sydney was the turning point in a series to determine the unofficial world champions; Arthurton made a fine unbeaten 157 two matches earlier, and Adams has been Mr. Consistency since his memorable debut against South Africa last year. Judging from his exploits over the last three years, another talented left-hander seems destined for that company.  Shivnarine Chanderpaul, the 19 year old Guyanese, has announced himself as the latest candidate for a place in the West Indies team.

An unassuming, almost shy young man who likes to escape the spotlight that has focussed on him, the slightly built Chanderpaul (5 feet, 5 inches tall, 120 pounds on the scale) first created a favorable impression in the 1991 Northern Telecom.  This year,his last at the youth level, he was one of the main reasons why Guyana emerged as back to back champions.

Although affected by illness throughout,his 335 runs were the most by any batsman.Dismissed only twice, his average was 167.50.  Along with his 19 wickets with his underated, right arm leg spin, there would have been little discussion in naming him Most Valuable Player.

If confirmation of his potential was needed,Chanderpaul responded by producing his most captivating display with an unbeaten 202 for the West Indies against England in the opening Test of the recent youth series at Trent Bridge,followed by an unbeaten 153 against a Development of Excellence XI.

Robin Marlar, the veteran correspondent of the Sunday Times, called Chanderpaul “a class act” after watching his double century. “He looks like a reincarnation of Alvin Kallicharran with all the footwork of a mature player,” Marlar wrote.”His judgement was impressive,too.As best he could, he left alone anything that threatened his outside edge,playing the leave-alone stroke as a positive event, like all the finest left-handed run makers. Further-more,when he was bowled a bad ball…he put it away with certainty and wide of the field”.

The flattering comparison with Kallicharran was relevant for they share the same physique, left-handedness, homeland and east Indian ancestry.

Born August 16, 1974 in East Coast Demerara,Shivnarine Chanderpaul was dominating schools’ cricket from a tender age at Cove and John Secondary.  His progress from schools cricket into the Guyana Northern Telecom team in Jamaica in 1991 was predictable although not perhaps,the impression he created when he was thrown in for his first class debut in the 1992 Red Stripe Cup against a powerful Leewards Islands attack mounted by Kenneth Benjamin, Hamish Anthony and Vaughn Walsh.

Still only 17, he joined a long list of batsmen who suffered the agony of claiming a duck on their debut appearance but, unruffled and unflustered,went on to craft a plucky 90 in the second innings..Here indeed was something special.  He held up Barbados with a typically determined 66 in the next match, and in the two matches of that 1992 first class season,averaged 56.  In the 1993 season,the West Indies selectors first took notice of him after a creditable Red Stripe Cup in which he averaged 35.

Originally selected as 12th man for the President’s XI against the touring Pakistanis,he found a place in the starting team at the last moment after Nehemiah Perry pulled out on the morning of the match.
By the end of the match,he had enscribed his name for the Board team that would tour Bermuda in July  First, his leg spinners earned him four wickets,then he followed up with his “proudest moment” in his career, a well deserved maiden first class century on the ground where he has played most of his major cricket, Bourda, home of the famous Georgetown Cricket Club (GCC).

Those who know him closely will not be surprised by his rapid progress in such a short period.  His dedication and committment to the game that he started playing at age eight is phenomenal.
“I focus strictly on cricket.  I always wanted to play cricket and make a career out of it,” he said. “I train every day.  When I am at home, I don’t work, I don’t go to school, I just train and practice.”
Overall,his record in three years at youth level stands out.No one else averages as much as 57 in their career, yet Chanderpaul expresses disappointment because of the lack of opportunity.

This year, headaches, a cold and sinus problems affected him.  Last year,rain was the bugbear when Guyana took the title at home.  In the second match of the 1991 tournament, severe cramps and dehydration forced him to retire hurt on 76 against Barbados.  He was virtually dragged off the field by two teammates and,with no medic around to offer assistance,the young man experienced considerable pain and trauma which had an irreversible effect on his form for the remainder of the competition.  His predicament was further compounded when on the rest day, the following day, he was taken on a long, arduous and frustrating excursion trip.  That behind him, he focuses on a future that promises to be bright.

He quickly identifies his biggest influence as his father,Khemraj,who provided encouragement and support.  Faoud Bacchus, the former Test batsman,and Sheik Mohammed, the little wicket-keeper,work with him on his cricket at GCC.  His mother and his two sisters are also some of his biggest fans.

“My aim is to make it to the top,” he said.  The evidence indicates that it should not be too long before he gets there.

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