Shivnarine Chanderpaul was recently interviewed in New York by cricket enthusiast Albert Baldeo. The interview was published in the August 30th edition of the Cricket International newspaper here in New York.
Albert Baldeo(AB): Your last two years have been remarkable, scoring a total of 6 centuries. How do you feel making it back to the top ?
Shiv Chanderpaul(SC): I am pleased that my dedication, focus, and commitment paid off. When I play for the West Indies, I overlook petty things, and I focus completely on my game. I train hard, and I practice hard. I am more committed to my religion (Hinduism) and my game. I am looking to achieve bigger goals.
AB: Why did you pursue a career in cricket ?
SC: I guess from watching my father and my uncle who introduced the game to me. I grew up with it, so I figured that with all the success I heard other Guyanese cricketers attain, that I should follow it seriously. Hence my father started to encourage and train me to become a cricketer.
AB: What age were you then ?
SC: Very young, at the tender age of 8 years old. Sometimes the whole village (Unity Village in Guyana) would bowl to me, and I mean bowl to me as if I was a big man, and it was here that I learnt how to combat the opposing bowling. They never cut me any slack on account of my age. Sometimes, they would soak the ball and pelt it at me very hard, so I had to learn how to defend my body and my wicket, and play shots like the hook and pull. Some afternoons, I would apply hot water to my skin whenever I was bruised. Also, because the pitch was shorter and the concrete wicket faster, the village bowling was equally challenging as the bowling I faced in test cricket.
AB: Who are some of the people who played an important part in your career ?
SC: I learnt a lot looking at Alvin Kallichararn”s technique, and Rohan Kanhai helped me correct a few flaws I had earlier in my batting technique. I will never forget the advice he gave me. Kanhai really knows the game. I think the man is a batting genius.
AB: I remember you provided the backbone for Brian Lara when he made his world record 375. Tell us about that historic occasion. Were you hoping you would have been allowed to reach that elusive test hundred yourself ?
SC: Cricket is an unbelievable game because no one knows what will happen. There were many times in his inning when he wasn’t so sure and I encouraged him and told him to keep going. Although I was a junior player to him, I was his last hope as the inning could have folded up. I rebuked him when he played a rash shot as if he was giving away the opportunity, and he was just so grateful when he got to 375. I knew that I had to keep one end going for him, so I was not thinking about my hundred, until after the inning was declared, when I realized that I could have been given a chance since the wicket was dead, and the outcome seemed a draw. I have always been a team player. A few players like Ambrose came up to me to sympathize with me that I did not get a hundred too. I was happy to see Lara get 375. I was proud of him. I walked through an arch of bats with Lara, and shared the spotlight in a motorcade with him. We shared a major partnership. But we had to give ourselves a shot at winning.
AB: What do you consider to be your greatest test inning ? Reminisce on other favorite innings.
SC: I would say my recent 104 against Australia. I batted with a broken middle finger on my left hand, and was able to reach that landmark, and assist my team to create history. Sarwan played magnificently also in that inning. I also rate the inning (75*) I played with Lara’s 375 as a great team innings. My 125 plus at Lords when Sachin Tendulkar and I made centuries at the Princess Diana Match gave me great satisfaction. My 303* against Jamaica was an inning that showed that I can bat for long periods too.
AB: I read that Spiritualism has played a great role in your life. How has this helped your focus on your game and your discipline ?
SC: It is helping me in a big way to keep my mind and my concentration focused. Once you have belief in yourself and God that’s all you need.
AB: Which bowlers you consider to be the ones that gave you the most trouble ?
SC: I would say Wasim Akram. Wasim is one of the very difficult bowlers to deal with. He was the best in his heyday. Shaun Pollock, Jason Gillespie and Shoaib Akhtar, when he is on the go, are also good bowlers.
AB: Which batsmen would you consider to be the best in the world today ?
SC: I would say Brian Lara and Sachin Tendulkar. It’s hard to say who is better. Brian is more aggressive, and he takes more chances. Sachin is solid and will play his shots when he settles in.
AB: I notice that your highest one day score of 150 was in the opening position. Do you feel comfortable opening in onedayers ?
SC: I will open the batting if asked to do so in limited over matches.
AB: You have played a lot of cricket with Carl Hooper. Do you think he can still contribute to the WI team at this level ?
SC: Yes, I think so. I think he said he is planning to come back. I hope he does.
AB: How do you prepare for an innings ?
SC: I pray a lot and call on my inner strength. I would look at the TV and analyze the bowlers and the conditions. I try not to get nervous, and tell myself that I must get a good start and carry on. I always have to be ready to bat for my team, whatever the state of the game.
AB: Shiv, it has been a great pleasure talking to you. You are certainly a hero. Keep up the good work.