How Will The West Indies Cope Without Chanderpaul?
The very thought of Shivnarine Chanderpaul not playing international cricket in the near future may be enough to send shivers down any West Indian fan's spine.
Not only has Chanderpaul been the anchor of the West Indies' middle order for the last two decades, but he has also become the player the team relies upon when they find themselves in sticky situations.
Chanderpaul, who made his Test debut at the age of 19, is renowned for his unorthodox batting stance. In fact, he revealed that he adopted the stance when he was just a youngster and has stuck with it throughout his career since it would allow him to see the ball clearly with both eyes.
Despite the cricketing community branding his stance as ugly and "crab-like", Chanderpaul has silenced all his critics by letting his bat do the talking.
The 39-year-old Guyanese is currently the sixth-highest Test run-scorer in history with 11,327 runs, and he is also the second-highest in terms of West Indians. Only the legendary Brian Lara is ahead of him with 11,953 runs.
In the 154 Test matches he has played for his country, it is hard to believe that Chanderpaul has managed to score 29 centuries and 63 half-centuries, all while maintaining an impressive average of 52.19.
Chanderpaul has been not out on 46 different occasions, which is exactly why I referred to him as West Indies' middle order anchor. It is simply not good enough for the West Indies to continue putting their faith in him to make a big score every inning.
The top-order batsmen have to start firing, especially players like Kieran Powell, Kirk Edwards and Darren Bravo, all of whom have been earmarked as future icons and legends.
Once Chanderpaul does decide to hang up his boots, the West Indies will enter panic mode because firstly, they will not have anyone to rescue them from dire situations, and secondly, they will need to find a student brimming with talent to replace the sensei himself.
However, finding this new talent may prove more difficult for the West Indies in comparison to other cricket boards due to frequent clashes between players and the West Indies Cricket Board (WICB).
More often than not, it is the West Indian superstars that have found themselves in hot water with the WICB. One prime example is that of flamboyant opening batsman Chris Gayle. In 2011, the Jamaican powerhouse decided to represent the Royal Challengers Bangalore in the Indian Premier League (IPL) instead of representing his country. This escalated into a major dispute between him and the WICB, but it all started when Gayle was left out of West Indies squad for the first two One-Day Internationals against Pakistan in April 2011.
Similarly, spin maestro Sunil Narine did the same thing earlier this month when he decided to play for the Kolkata Knight Riders in the IPL final. As a result of his actions, the WICB decided to drop him for the ongoing Test series against New Zealand.
These types of disputes is exactly why finding a replacement for Chanderpaul is going to be that much harder. If well-respected players are more inclined to participate in overseas Twenty20 tournaments, this trend may trickle down and influence the younger generation, who may be enticed to follow in the footsteps of their current idols.
If this theme continues, then the West Indies, who currently ranked eighth on the International Cricket Council (ICC) Test team rankings, may slip further down. This will be extremely humiliating and embarrassing for the fans of the country, considering their illustrious history.
With Chanderpaul soon to join retired West Indian batting legends such as Sir Garfield Sobers, Sir Viv Richards and Lara, the future of West Indian cricket is shaping to be as turbulent as the storms that often hit the picturesque country.