Shiv, Bacchus Thrill Orlando

Date Published: 
Sham Samaroo

Shivnarine Chanderpaul, in the Orlando area for a short stay, smashed an unbeaten century in an exhibition game organized by former West Indian star and USA captain Faoud Bacchus.

There was an air of expectation in the pavilion as the two giants from Guyana, Chanderpaul and Bacchus, stepped out to open the innings for Orlando #1. And the large and enthusiastic crowd was not disappointed as the pair posted a magnificent century opening stand.Chanderpaul was in ripping form smashing a brilliant 102 not out studded with seven 4s and four 6s. Bacchus scored a polished 48 before retiring.

The Tiga is coming off a marvelous 2002 – a year in which he scored 1065 Test runs (the only West Indian to break the 1000 run barrier in 2002 and the only batsman to win a Man of the Series Award in Tests that year). He finished the year with 4 centuries for an average of 66.56. For such a remarkable effort the little left-hander won both the West Indies Batsman of the Year Award and the Guyana Cricketer of the Year Award.

Both Chanderpaul and Bacchus have fond memories of India. On the recent tour to India Chanderpaul recorded his first away Test century – equaling his highest Test score of 140. In fact, during that innings, when Chanderpaul finished Day Three undefeated on a hundred, I could not help but recall something from my interview with him last summer, the first live interview he had ever given to the media.

During the interview I suggested that, perhaps, it was time for someone to break Rohan Kanhai’s long standing record of 256 made against India in 1958. Chanderpaul’s response is a reflection of his humility and groundedness. Said Chanderpaul, “Sham, that’s a lot of runs!

He also proceeded to share with me the fact that Kanhai was his coach when he first made the West Indies team. Chanderpaul was effusive in his praise of Kanhai as a coach and role model, and expressed eternal gratitude to Kanhai for the invaluable batting tips and insights he shared with him from his vast experience. Asked if he would be willing to pass on some of those batting tips to the youths in America, Chanderpaul smiled and responded: “Sure. Why not? I would be happy to help the young fellas.

Faoud Bacchus, too, has fond memories of India. He recorded his highest test score, a courageous 250, on his first tour to India. Last summer when Bacchus was in New York for the USA Regional Championship I asked him about that innings. He said that it remains the most memorable moment of his Test career and one that he will cherish forever.

Bacchus also graciously accepted to sign a few memorabilia to be presented to the sportsman and sportswoman of my graduating class that year. This is what he wrote: "Congratulations! Keep up the great work! Never can a worthwhile achievement be obtained without some sort of sacrifice." My students thank you, Faoud.

It was clear that helping children is a high priority on the agenda of both of these stalwarts of the game.

The match in Orlando was, therefore, an unforgettable moment for the fans to rub shoulders with these two accomplished, yet humble and community-minded gentlemen. If I’m not mistaken, it was probably the very first time that the two have played together in a match. Hmmm. Something for cricket enthusiasts to debate.

Back to the game. Chanderpaul’s team – Orlando # 1 – finished on 236 for 5 in their allotted 35 overs. Also among the runs was Paul Singh (21). I had the pleasure of seeing Paul Singh in New York last summer in the US Regional Championship, and later in the year I met him again while holidaying in Orlando. He is a talented player, a very serious cricketer, and a wonderful person.

In reply, Orlando # 2, led by a “Gilchrist-style” 58 not out from star batsman V Thompson (5x6 and 5x4), mounted a serious challenge. Unfortunately, he received very little support from his team mates with only Ed Harris (19) getting among the runs as Orlando #2 finished on 194. Chanderpaul returned figures of 3 for 30. With the West Indies selectors opting for six seamers and no spinner for next month’s World Cup, Chanderpaul might well find himself with some bowling duties.