“You either die a hero, or you live long enough to see yourself become the villain”, are the unspoken words which the actions of the WICB Selectors seem to convey to the dearly-loved, respected, battle-scarred veteran of the Caribbean, Shiv Chanderpaul. Those elegant drives, that graceful cut and that awkward-yet-solid stance. Also, the black stickers under his eyes, the eyes which gives you a steely look, telling you it’d better be your lucky day if you want to get him out because he surely isn’t going anywhere, without giving his life out there on the pitch.
Well here’s the epitome of excellence, the pillar of strength and the guiding force behind West Indian Cricket for the last 20 years or longer. The man averages 51.37 and that isn’t good enough to warrant him selection to an important series against the Aussies.
West Indies Cricket Board (WICB) appointed Phil Simmons as their head coach in April this year. Sure, Simmons had a great run guiding Ireland through two successful World Cups. But does his one-month appointment justify him to judge Chanderpaul on his last six innings?
In the letter to Chanderpaul, Clive Lloyd explains his omission on the following grounds.
The Coach and the Selectors have studied your stats from the last 6 Test matches to date, 3 against South Africa and 3 against England. You batted 11 innings and had an aggregate of 183 runs at an average of 16.64. In determining the squad for the series against Australia, The selectors have decided to move on with younger players for the future. I therefore regret to inform you that the Coach and selectors have decided to omit you from the squad for that series.
Without a doubt, Clive Lloyd is one of the best captain, the world has seen. And so he must realize, Chanderpaul averaged 48 when the Kiwis toured the Caribbean for three Tests last year and amassed 270 runs in two Tests against Bangladesh last September without being dismissed. Add to this, his 11,867 runs in 164 matches. Even a schoolboy would realize the importance of such experience when one plays the second-best Test side in the world.
Clive Lloyd is willing to show his gratitude to the veteran batsmen for his service, but believes it isn’t fitting enough to grant him a farewell series. The letter expresses how grateful the WICB is to Shiv.
You have been a great player for the West Indies and have given excellent service to the game and to West Indies supporters all over the world. We hope that your skills will be utilised in the future and we wish you all the very best.
We also wish to thank you for your contribution to this game which gave us all our upward mobility.
Even if, one chooses to entirely disregard the leaked Whatsapp messages and snail mail between Chanderpaul and the selectors, mustn’t one ask the batsman himself first? Whether he wishes to continue further or is he willing to hang his boots? Or if he simply needs a little more time?
Off-late players around the world are being pushed to call it a day. The boards and the selectors alike have been luring them with immediate positions of team directorship, mentorship and executive roles in the board panel. A few of them have been offered the role of head coach as well. Stephen Fleming, after his stint in the IPL with the Chennai Super Kings or Ricky Ponting with the Mumbai Indians surely ring a bell.
What’s excruciatingly painful is how the curtains are falling off on this majestic batsman. Heated WhatsApp conversations, leaked mails and Clive Lloyd having to write this letter in the first place. This is how Lloyd’s letter began.
Following your meeting with the Coach, Mr. Simmons on 4th May 2015, and his subsequent WhatsApp conversations with you, I tried to contact you on several occasions but you had already left for Guyana. I rang your home telephone number in Guyana and left my details with a male member of the house requesting that you contact me which he promised to do. To date, you have not returned my calls and it is rather unfortunate as I did want to have the opportunity to have a discussion with you prior to writing this letter to you.
Even if the WICB deems fit to drop Chanderpaul from the team, the relations shouldn’t fail. As it is, West Indies Cricket Board is not known for maintaining cordial associations with its players. How they possibly hope to retain their future players by setting such examples is truly above worldly logic.
The saddest part in this is that a man who has given his everything to serve West Indies’ cricket for the last two decades is being treated like an outsider. The WICB owes it, to him and his fans worldwide, for giving this great man the farewell he deserves.