Work why not the Tiger?
By Pryor Jonas
December 1, 2002
His real name, since you may not be a cricket fan of Guyana, and therefore may not know that he is called Tiger, his real name is Shivnarine Chanderpaul. I’m still to speak to him face to face, as I’ve told you before, and will let you know when I do, because I’m certain in my own mind that he’s the real McCoy. The Tiger was born on August 18, 1974. A Sunday it was. So he’s just 28 now if you are a statistician bent solely on accuracy to the nth degree, you’d say he is 28 years, three months and twelve days old today. Check me out and see. I’m quoting from Wisden’s, and you know how we’ve caught that cricketers’ Bible nodding more than once, not only on the date of birth (remember Roger Harper?) but also on place, and even name! We still argue about R.B. Kanhai, don’t we? Rohan Bholalal was appointed very reluctantly as captain of the West Indies, despite the fact that Garry St Aubrun had been failing miserably. If you recall, Worrell had favoured Sobers above Hunte, who was rather should have been Frank’s legitimate successor. But after Worrell’s triumphant tour of England in 1963, he could verily have boasted, as a famous French ruler once did, “La WICBC c’est moi.”
What I’m trying to say, if you think I’m making rather heavy weather of it, is simply this: Shivnarine Chanderpaul, not Ridley Jacobs, should have replaced Carl Hooper as captain of the West Indies. The Tiger should have replaced the wicket-keeper. Here are my chief reasons. First, Hooper apart, he’s by far the senior Test player in our West Indies side. Shiv was 19 when he first played Test cricket in March 1994, on his home ground at Bourda. We beat England handsomely by an innings. He was lucky. Our selectors don’t as a rule display such insight. Your budding batsman should play his first series at home. Now let me challenge you: When did Jacobs first play Test cricket?
Second, Chanderpaul has more experience as captain at the first-class level than has Jacobs. Again I ask my readers to do some homework and check this fact.
Granted, when the Tiger started he was a greenhorn someone said a misfit and could in no way be bracketed with Hooper, yet he was always there, ready to play and give of his best which could not fairly be said of his skipper. And the Tiger improved with every game he played. I remember how one commentator (I don’t hear or read of him any more in our local press these days) once deemed Shiv’s captaincy as “clueless”. I thought that remark grossly unfair, and wondered what he would have said about Garfield Sobers after the Port-of-Spain fiasco versus England in 1968.
Third, no one can validly challenge Chanderpaul’s position in a West Indies side which certainly cannot be said of Jacobs at this present time. In Chanderpaul’s very first series against England this was in ’93-94 his selection at the expense of Phil Simmons provoked violent objection from all non-Guyanese, but particularly from Trinidadians, yet at the end of the series, Simmons’s average was 17 as against Chanderpaul’s 58.
I could go on, but let me bring this fourth and final point to your attention.
Ridley Jacobs was born on November 26, 1967. You know what this means. Whereas Shivnarine Chanderpaul is senior to Ridley Jacobs in the Test side, Jacobs is Chanderpaul’s senior in age. How could you defend this?