GEORGETOWN, Guyana –– Like most cricketers at the tailend of their careers, Shivnarine Chanderpaul has been touted by head coach Esaun Crandon as a mentor for the Guyana Jaguars’ batting in the upcoming Professional Cricket League (PCL) four-day tournament set to start in November.
The Guyana Jaguars, winners of the first edition of the PCL in 2014/2015, are hard at training with the aim of defending the title, and Chanderpaul, who was overlooked for West Indies tour of Sri Lanka next month, is very much part of the set-up.
Crandon said he planned to tap into Chanderpaul’s reservoir of expertise to derive benefits for the South America-based franchise.
Chanderpaul, the region’s most capped Test player with 164 matches, joined the squad on Tuesday after returning from the United States and during an interview with Guyana Times Sport he expressed a desire to share his knowledge with the young crop of batsmen.
“It’s obviously the part you have to play now. The younger players need help and there are not a lot of senior players around, and you need to be there to help them. If you’re not here you can’t help them. A lot of times when you’re out there you can help a young fella to carry on and bat,” the former West Indies captain pointed out.
Chanderpaul reflected on the Guyana Jaguars’ last match against the Windward Islands in the PCL inaugural season, when he was constantly in the ears of all-rounder Christopher Barnwell, who eventually churned out his maiden first-class hundred, a brilliant 148.
The left-hander, who has piled up 25,173 runs from 345 first-class matches at an average of 54.48 with 71 centuries, said he was keen on using his wealth of experience to nurture the next generation of batsmen, who currently form part of the Guyana Jaguars’ franchise.
“Things that they might not expect you might be able to pick it up before them and you help them to be aware of certain things,” Chanderpaul said.
The former West Indies captain lauded Crandon and the support staff for their work in preparing the team this year, and he was particularly pleased to see several young players being incorporated into the training sessions.
“We have some bright young boys in this set-up right now, and it’s good that we have coach Crandon and chairman of selectors [Rayon] Griffith pulling out the bright ones and getting them here with us. They can only learn if they’re here with us and that is what they’re trying to do. It’s good to see what they’re doing for the future,” Chanderpaul related.
In terms of his personal preparation, Chanderpaul, who is a vital cog in the Guyana Jaguars’ middle-order, said he would continue with the same intensity as he has done over the years, despite being once again overlooked by the West Indies Cricket Board’s selection panel for the upcoming Test series in Sri Lanka.
“I prepare myself one way and that’s the way I will always prepare myself. I’m not thinking that the tour is gone and I’m not there, I keep my preparation [method] the same, and when the tournament comes around I’m still hungry and ready for it,” Chanderpaul asserted.
Quizzed on the team’s chances of retaining the title, Chanderpaul said while there were several match-winners in the squad, “you still have to go out and play well.”
He explained: “We still have basically the same players in team. We miss probably Narsingh [Deonarine], and we pretty much have the same team, but remember it’s a cricket match and you still have to go out and play well.”
Chanderpaul added: “You don’t know if you would have the same luck from last year because at times when we were in problems someone came along and performed for us and we were able to win games. You don’t know if this time around that will happen, but we have the calibre of players who can win matches for us, so hopefully when the time comes we can deliver.”
Chanderpaul, who is currently the longest active first-class player in the Caribbean, played a major role in Guyana Jaguars winning the inaugural title, as he was the leading run-scorer for the franchise. He had amassed 539 runs in eight games, including a century in the final round to complement four half-centuries.
The veteran left-hander was one of three Guyanese to score over 500 runs; the others being opener Rajendra Chandrika with 525 and Deonarine with 514.