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Tony Becca: Time has caught up with the master

Published:Sunday | May 31, 2015 | 12:00 AMTony Becca
Clive Lloyd

The decision not to select Shivnarine Chanderpaul for the Australian Test series must have been a tough one for the West Indies selectors.

At 40, almost 41 years old, Chanderpaul, with 164 Test matches, is the West Indies' most capped player, and with 11,867 runs and 30 centuries he is behind only Brian Lara as the West Indies' most successful batsman.

Starting his Test career as a 19-year-old youngster against England in 1994, he represented the West Indies for 21 glorious years and ended his great run with a wonderful average of 51.37.

Those figures would have made Chanderpaul a legend in any country, and to many West Indians, cricket fans or politicians, especially from Guyana, his native land, they probably would have guaranteed him a place in the team for a long, long time.


boyhood dream


In fact, with Chanderpaul standing only 86 runs away from becoming the West Indies' highest run-getter, West Indian fans to the man, or woman, believed he would have been selected for the Australian series, if only to be given a chance to achieve his boyhood dream.

The selectors, Clive Lloyd, Courtney Walsh and company, after much deliberation, and probably swayed by the West Indies Board, however, decided against it.

The team is more important than the man.

The reality of the situation is this: Chanderpaul's brilliant figures had slipped, and his tally of 183 runs in 11 innings for an average of 16.63 in the past year suggested it was not a loss of form as much as time had caught up with the master.

Time, as it is said, waits on no man.

While one may remain focused and willing to fight to the end like a tiger, at 40, it is hard, almost impossible to stay fit and to produce in Test cricket, especially against the best.

Chanderpaul is definitely slower than he was, and as Lloyd and company may have reasoned, he is now too slow for the pace of Mitchell Johnson, Mitchell Starc, Josh Hazlewood, and company.

It could not have been an easy decision to make, but one which had to be made. And it could not have been an easy decision when the selectors remembered the many times the West Indies players went on strike and Chanderpaul was always present, serving the West Indies with every defensive stroke, or attacking shot, of his bat.

Maybe the selectors could have taken all those things into consideration and given Chanderpaul the chance to surpass Lara as a run-getter, but it was not their call. The selectors call was simply to select the best available West Indies team for the Test matches and nothing else.


public's interest


It was not necessary, however, despite the public's interest in the selection, for new coach Phil Simmons to say that Chanderpaul "did not fit into the best team", and that "we selected a team to win against Australia and he did not fit into it."

Lloyd, the chairman of the selection panel, however, said it correctly: "We have to look after West Indies cricket, and we have to give the talented youngsters a chance."

Chanderpaul's omission may have come about because of the West Indies' promising performance against England, maybe the selectors are now happy, and maybe, after all the years when he was the backbone of the team, they now feel satisfied that they can do without him.

The selectors are right in dropping Chanderpaul because of his age and because he is not near what he used to be. It is their job to select the best team, in their opinion.

Chanderpaul has been wonderful, he has been a great player, and every West Indian should doff their hats and say "thank you Shiv".