Why it was wrong to taunt Tiger

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Andy Ryan of Reverse Swept Radio questions the West Indies handling of Shivnarine Chanderpaul.

It’s the summer of 2007. Steve Harmison stares at Shiv Chanderpaul and then shakes his head. He has no idea what to do with the immovable object in front of him. The more the West Indies crumbled that summer, the more defiant Chanderpaul got. Such determination amidst a shambles has been the motif of his career. I’ve seen plenty of batsmen with more class; not one with more guts.

It’s his record of committed service that makes his recent treatment by the WICB particularly disgraceful. The WICB owe him for more than just his batting; in 2005, he did them a huge favour by refusing to join a WIPA strike and agreeing to lead a weakened side. Chanderpaul has always been a man of few words, preferring to focus on playing the game that he loves. His decision to speak out so openly shows just how angry he is.

I actually believe that the WICB’s terrible error has arisen from good intentions. Looking at the top test sides, they have decided that there is a lack of mental toughness in the West Indian camp. They are partly right about this. Yet this can only be changed through careful long-term rebuilding and not barbed comments. They wanted to show that they meant business, that no-one was bigger than the team. Yet in questioning a consummate professional, they have left themselves weaker and looking ridiculous.

Given time, I think Ottis Gibson might well become a good coach but he is struggling to manage the transition from one generation to the next. After the failure of the World Cup he seems to have decided to cast out the old guard. While I can see the temptation in making a fresh start, the timing is not right. Chanderpaul still has much to offer as a batsman; even in a below-par 2010, he made several key contributions. Even more crucially, he can be a vital role model for the likes of Darren Bravo and Adrian Barath. If the Windies are serious about turning their young talents into world-beaters, it would be wrong not to seek Chanderpaul’s help.

The whole episode sends an unfortunate message to these youngsters. Serve the national team with commitment and we’ll criticize you and try to force you into retirement. Every piece of mismanagement makes the lure of the IPL that bit stronger.

Chanderpaul Smashes 6 Boundaries in an Over off Steve Harmison


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