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Interview with Shiv Chanderpaul: Part 2

As promised, here is Part 2 of my interview with Shiv in which he talks about West Indies cricket, where it all went wrong, his hope for the future, including the new up and coming Chanderpaul on the block, and his involvement with U.S. cricket…

NP: Shiv, how do you prepare for an innings, mentally? physically? I ask this because it looks like you put a lot of yourself into each innings you play.

SC: I make sure I am mentally and physically prepared to go out and play. You have to plan to bat long, you have to be focused. You cannot make runs sitting in the pavilion. You have to occupy the crease. I use the bowling machine a lot. I am also guided by my belief.

NP: How did you develop your batting technique? Have you always batted like that? Is it a product of where West Indian cricket is at the moment?

SC: My father has played a very important role in the development of my cricket. I had no real formal training. It was playing cricket on the street with rubber balls etc. I have always had a “funny” stance. It is just unique to me. It works, and that is what is important. My son, who is an up and coming player, plays with a lot of similarity. He is currently playing for the Guyana U19 squad.

Ian Chin: That would be great if you could play with him one day? You still have another 5 years don’t you?

SC: Wow, well not sure if I have five years, but it would be great to play for another couple of years. Would be very nice to play with my son in the same team. He’s a good player, very talented. He made a couple of fifties in the under 19 games. I was batting with him once for a team that travelled down from New York to play in Guyana and asked me to play with them. I keep giving him tips, telling him what to do. He tends to want to thrash at the ball as well, but I keep telling him to wait for it.

Chanderpaul reckons his older son could be a very good player one day

NP: Switching gears, you made your test debut way back in 1994. How has test cricket changed in that time?

SC: The game is constantly evolving. We have better equipment, better facilities, better players, the introduction of more technology to the game is definitely having its impact.

NP: 1996 World Cup Semifinal: You were going incredibly well at 80, and your side needed 4 an over of the last 10 overs to win. But your wicket sparked one of the most famous collapses in World Cup history. Do you feel responsible in any way for that defeat? How was the mood in the dressing room afterwards?

SC: You always feel bad when your team come out on the short end. In that particular game I would have loved to stay to the end and bring home the game. I am a professional cricketer and a team player. I always go out there to do my best. We were very disappointed with the loss. As a senior player, I always try to work with the others to get the best results.

NP: You have noted that the 1996 World Cup team was almost on par with the team of the 70s and the 80s. What, then led to such a dramatic decline in performances post-1996? Was it a poor succession plan for the star players? Was there general lack of interest in the sport? Was it poor administration not channeling enough money into the game?

SC: All of the above and more, we became complacent, and did not have proper planning for the future. Things are now beginning to change for the better. What happened was that earlier, our players all went to England to County Cricket to learn their skills. After a while, England started realizing that they were a breeding ground for Caribbean cricketers, so that stopped happening. When that happened, we were left with our players having to learn their cricket in the Caribbean, where there were no facilities, no coaches. The lack of facilities really hampered our progress. There are no drainage systems at grounds, so when it rains, you can’t play. No indoor facilities. Many of the first class grounds didn’t have proper bases either, so they would break up. Now, money is being invested to improve the quality of our facilities and our coaching to help nurture talent in-house.

NP: There has been some talk over the years that the West Indies have been losing players to basketball? Is that true?

SC: To some extent yes. Parents now realize that not all kids are going to make it playing for the West Indies. So they want them to focus at school a lot too. The way cricket goes, it lasts all day. Some parents don’t mind if their kids go to school and come back and play basketball for an hour or two, because you can do that. With cricket, it’s all day, so it is more time consuming. That being said, we have some amazing talent in the West Indies in cricket right now, and in the years to come, that talent will be on display in the world arena.

NP: West Indies cricket has been ravaged with significant disputes between the board and the players association. What needs to be resolved so that the administrators and players can focus on the development of a world class cricket team once again?

SC: The board and the players association need to work together for the betterment of cricket across the region. A more amicable relationship between the WICB and WIPA is a starting point.

NP: Three of West Indies’ most high-profile cricketers – Chris Gayle, Kieron Pollard and Dwayne Bravo – recently turned down West Indies contracts, presumably to make themselves available for lucrative domestic twenty20 competitions. What is your view on this?

SC: You must be able to ply your trade wherever you want to. There should be no restrictions. We should have freedom of movement of players.

NP: At 38, do you have any plans to retire? Are there any goals you want to reach, such as scoring 10,000 test runs?

SC: I have already reached 10K runs. I would like to continue to play in all formats of the game. I am strict  when it comes to my fitness. As you get older you have to work harder. I have no plans in the immediate future to retire. I would like to be given the opportunity to continue playing at the highest level.

NP: In 2005 when you were made captain of the West Indian side you started with a double century against South Africa; given you thrive under pressure why did you then give up the captaincy in 2006? I know the reason you gave was to focus on your batting but your batting obviously had not suffered due to the extra responsibility?

SC: I felt that I had served my time as captain, and wanted to pass the mantle on to a younger person. It also gave me an opportunity to focus on my batting. This is where I can make maximum contribution to my team. Post captaincy, I was very productive, and was even awarded the ICC cricketer of the year award in 2008.

NP: There has been a lot in the Indian press recently about Dhoni’s captaincy. People are saying he is too defensive, and that in the crunch game against South Africa in the recent World T20, he employed the wrong bowlers at the wrong time. I, too, was critical of him about this. What is your view on Dhoni? Do you think he is a good captain?

SC: Dhoni’s been a very sensible captain for India for a while now, and won them the World Cup. He’s had a few bad series, but overall he is still a very good captain. Sometimes things don’t go your way and there’s nothing you can do about it.

NP: Similarly, there has been a lot of talk in India in the aftermath of the recent overseas series debacles of sending players to England to get experience in county cricket. What has playing in County Cricket taught you as a batsman?

SC: It is a great experience. I believe that all players should have a stint of county cricket under their belt. You play against some of the best players in the world, and the cricket is well organized.

NP: From a coaching standpoint, for our viewers, what is the key to playing good spinners, especially when they pitch the ball on a length?

SC: The key is not to commit early. When you’re playing spin, hang back, and wait for the ball to come to you. That way if it’s short, you can rock back and pull it or cut it. If its full, you can still have time to get to the pitch of the ball and play late. The key is to play late though. If you commit too early, you find yourself fending for the ball, getting out.

Chanderpaul loves employing the sweep shot against spinners

NP: Can you talk about your involvement with Sarasota International Cricket Club (SICC)?

SC: I have been involved with SICC for about ten years. It was on the recommendation of my former coach Rohan Kanhai. He suggested that when I am in the US I should get myself involved with SICC. It is one of the better clubs in the US. I have really enjoyed playing at SICC. The Chairman , Laurence Parry and the members are great to work with. I have always enjoyed my cricket at SICC. I am also an honorary member of the club. I am currently one of the coaches at the club, and I am involved in coaching the youngsters in the junior program in their cricket academy. SICC is a wonderful facility. The ground is great, the people are extremely helpful and they are great to work with. I have learned a lot from all these professional people at SICC.

NP: One of our writers, John Moore, recalls playing against you, and wanted to ask you this: “Can you please ask Shiv how he felt after getting out for 73 to a Japanese-born slow medium bowler who was still recovering from a dislocated shoulder?” (He also notes that your next innings was 150+ in a ODI in India shortly after).

SC: I don’t remember this particular incident or game, but on any day any bowler can get you out. He must be a really good Japanese cricketer. I did not know that they have Japanese cricketers. LOL.

NP: What do you think needs to be done to make cricket a mainstream sport in Florida, and on a larger scale, the U.S?

SC: Cricket needs to be introduced at the grade school level. We need to have proper coaches, facilities, and properly organized cricket tournaments. We need to invest the money at the grass root level.USACA and all the various leagues throughout the country need to work on a common goal of developing the sport. We need to use this opportunity of the T20 format to attract the American audience to the sport. This is a tremendous opportunity, that should not be wasted.

NP, IC and HR: Shiv, we know you have to catch your flight, so thank you very much for your time and appreciate all the insight.

Shiv: Cheers guys, my pleasure. Remember, don’t commit too early ;)

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6 Responses to "Interview with Shiv Chanderpaul: Part 2"
  1. Reply Carl Montgomery October 17, 2012 16:14 pm

    If Gibson has been man enough to accept Gayle back into the team why has he not extend the same hand to Sarwan( not in the team for Bangladesh)

    • Nikhil Puri
      Reply Nikhil Puri October 17, 2012 17:44 pm

      Good point. Without knowing any non-public details, I can also say that Sarwan hasn’t performed incredibly well on the test arena for a while now. While he still possesses a higher average than most current West Indies batsmen, (Chanderpaul and Gayle excluded), I think it’s time to build for the future. With Gayle and Shiv in the mix, the remaining four regular batsmen in the side including the likes of Bravo, Powell etc. will be able to learn and have more opoprtunities at the top level than having to wait for the retirement of Sarwan in 3-4 years time. The goal would be for the Windies to be challenging the top rung of test sides in 3 years from now…

  2. Reply Cricket Online October 17, 2012 23:38 pm

    West Indies seem to have some good youngsters coming through now, would seem like a backward step to me now to go back to Sarwan.

    It is a fair point from Carl though. But Sarwan has been part of a team that failed for a long time and may carry some baggage from that era (although he is not the only one in fairness).

  3. Reply Carl Montgomery October 18, 2012 11:13 am

    Sarwan was given a chance at Leics during the summer and performed very well. He has not been accorded the same hand by WI during the last18-24 Months. Agree WI is in state of repair and youngsters are required, however, Darren Bravo has given us style so far over substance and spin in Bangladesh would cause havoc which is where Sarwan comes in.

    • Nikhil Puri
      Reply Nikhil November 1, 2012 14:27 pm

      True – but I think bringing back Sarwan might result in a backward thinking attitude once more. Need to develop players for the future, whereas Sarwan might be around for 2-3 years at best..

  4. Reply Carl Montgomery November 1, 2012 16:48 pm

    Now that the situation is clearer(Sarwan’s resignation from the WIPA) his presence would the continuity WI cricket seeks with Chanderpaul nearing 40 and most likely to retire sooner, Sarwan is the one to carry the mantle for another 5-6 years providing all things being equal. Should 3/4 of the youngsters acquit themselves admirably,believe you me Sarwan would take a back seat. Lets see how the Board proceeds from here on.