In the end it was as simple as this. The West Indies selectors decided their team were a greater chance of beating Australia without Shiv Chanderpaul than with him.
That realisation arrived in discussions following the drawn series against England, but also as a result of broader examinations of Chanderpaul’s record, which had recently begun to trend drastically down from his illustrious record.
For Clive Lloyd, a fellow Guyanese, the decision to jettison a player as respected as Chanderpaul was a difficult one, but ultimately a matter of cricketing logic. In the loose collective of islands that make up the Caribbean it was bound to have created plenty of debate in circles both sporting and political, but Lloyd and the coach Phil Simmons were able to present a united and uncompromising front when explaining their choice of players to face Australia.
“Over a period of time we’ve noticed a decline in form … over the last 11 innings he’s averaging 16, so we thought the time has come to look towards younger players,” Lloyd said in Barbados.
“I don’t think there’s any bitterness. I think he realised that at 40 years old he’s not going to be in the same shape he was at 20. We just thought that here it is, we must make a decision. We have a lot of good young cricketers and we think it’s time we inject the youth into our cricket.”
Simmons said that while they had considered the possibility of allowing Chanderpaul one final curtain call against Australia, it would not have been for reasons of sentiment. Once the selectors decided to move on, there was no thought of a farewell tour.
“He’s had a long and illustrious career, and we know he’s done a lot for West Indies cricket, but at the same time we sit down to select a team against Australia,” Simmons said. “When you go through that process he didn’t fit in.
“It’s not about giving someone two Tests to finish their career, it’s about picking the right team to play the next game.”
There are plans in the works for an appropriate acknowledgement of Chanderpaul’s career, a journey so long that it commenced in 1994, when Simmons was still part of the Test team and West Indies were still proudly in possession of an unbeaten streak that had begun in 1980. While Chanderpaul did not play in the 1995 series that saw Australia finally end that run, he was for most of the intervening years the most stubborn defender of a team in decline.
“I don’t think there’s anybody here who can have admired Shivnarine Chanderpaul more than I have,” Lloyd said. “You’re in awe of the man, he’s given yeoman service. But there comes a time.”
It will be some time before Chanderpaul comes to terms with the decision. The aforementioned stubbornness was evident in his refusal to concede that his career was on the wane, leaving Lloyd and Simmons with the difficult task of talking him through their judgment.
“He still thinks he’s good enough to compete,” Lloyd said. “We had a discussion, but the point is that we made up our mind about what we wanted to do.
“We do have a lot of exciting young cricketers and it is an exciting time for our cricket. We are hoping that these guys come through, and show their mettle.”
The training squad of 12 assembled in Barbados will be swelled to 14 following the conclusion of the tour match between the Australians and a WICB President’s XI in Antigua, in which numerous young hopefuls will attempt to prove themselves worthy of a Test berth.
It also appears likely that Chanderpaul will be joined in his newfound state of spectatorship for this Test series by the West Indies’ IPL collective, as Lloyd and Simmons made it clear the Test team would be composed entirely of those players either training in Barbados or playing the Australians in Antigua.