Letter of the day: The shame of West Indies cricket
THE EDITOR, Sir:
We have all read about the omission of Shiv Chanderpaul from the West Indies team to play against Australia in the Test matches to be held in Dominica and Jamaica. This iconic cricketer, who has done so much for West Indies cricket during the past two decades, has been told that he does not fit in with present arrangements. He was also subjected to ill-considered comments by a former West Indian player, to the effect that he is not good enough to secure a place in the current West Indies team. Such is the assessment of the ability of a cricketer who, during the past decade or more, has been consistently ranked by the ICC among the top 10 batsmen in the world and who, during the same period, was the only West Indian player, apart from Brian Lara, to compile an average of more than 50 in Test cricket. Clearly, the assessment of Chanderpaul's ability, quoted earlier, is misleading, but this is the flawed logic and misguided thinking that are used to justify his exclusion from the team, like an old pair of boots that is no longer needed.
In excluding Chanderpaul from the team, the selectors have argued that sentiment should not be allowed to get in the way. But sentiment is very important. Life is not merely a matter of winning a Test match or even a series. More importantly, it is about human dignity and respect for others. The selectors seem unmindful of the public humiliation they have heaped upon a truly great cricketer and are also insensitive to the outrage they have caused in many quarters about the way the whole matter was handled. I understand that, despite the intervention of the president and other members of the WICB, the selectors held firm to their decision to omit Chanderpaul. If this is indeed the case, the question arises, who is ultimately responsible for West Indies cricket?
It is to Brian Lara's credit that he has been so openly critical of the selectors' decision to omit Chanderpaul from the team and argued instead for him to be given a farewell series, even though his own record could possibly have been surpassed by Chanderpaul, had he been selected to play in the two Tests against Australia. It is a sad day for West Indies cricket and an unforgivable insult to a great cricketer, which amounts to a public humiliation that has echoed throughout the cricketing world which holds Chanderpaul in the highest regard.
My advice to Chanderpaul? Hang up your test cap, but not your CPL hat, and walk off proudly into the sunset, confident in your own accomplishments which are recognised around the world. You are a legend in your time and the region may never again see the likes of you. Accept, with your usual humility, the honours that the Guyana Cricket Board is bound to heap upon you, and be magnanimous by overlooking the action of those who so publicly dishonoured you. Above all, teach your son, Tagenarine, the finer points of the game. If he becomes half as good as you, he will be a shining star in a future West Indies team. Then, sit back and watch your fame and name continue to live on far beyond those of the men who have treated you with such scant regard.
New York, USA