Young Chanderpaul Plays Straight

Date Published: 
The Indian Express
Bharat Sundaresan

A left-hander, Tagenarine marks his guard by hammering the bail into the pitch and in true family tradition prefers grinding away at the opposition rather than beating them to a pulp.

Unlike other star sons though, this 17-year-old who has been the mainstay of the West Indies team in the ongoing Under-19 World Cup in the UAE wasn’t coached by his famous father, Shivnarine Chanderpaul. Nor did the opener grow up under his wing. In fact, it was only in 2009, when Tagenarine was 13, that the Chanderpauls even started living together as a family at their ancestral home in Guyana’s Unity village.

With the senior Chanderpaul, the Caribbean’s most capped Test cricketer and the highest run-getter in the country’s Test history, based in Florida with his second-wife, Amy, Tagenarine (pronounced Tej-narine) spent his growing up years in Unity with mother Annalee. However, he made it a point to catch every innings of his father on television.

He would call to ask about me, and we would meet at times when he was in Guyana on tour. It’s been good having him around since he returned,” Tagenarine says. Shivnarine settled back in Unity five years ago.

One of the rare periods they spent together during Shivnarine’s peak cricketing years was in 2009, when he took Tagenarine along when India toured the Caribbean for a short ODI series.

It was the afternoons Tagenarine spent at his paternal grandparents’ place, particularly with grandfather Khemraj, that marked his initiation to cricket. Originally a fisherman, Khemraj had been the first to spot Shivnarine’s talent and hone it. During the hours that Tagenarine spent with him waiting for mother Annalee to return from work, Khemraj put him through a similar grind.

I was around six when grandad started throwing balls at me. He had small nets under the house, a concrete strip where my father had been trained,” says Tagenarine. While Khemraj was strict, the 17-year-old adds, he was probably not as tough as he had been with Shivnarine.

Tagenarine also says it was Khemraj who essentially turned him into a left-hander, though he started out batting right-handed. While Tagenarine is ambidextrous with the ball, he has stuck to bowling left-arm orthodox spin.

Local lore has it that Khemraj got villagers to bowl at Shivnarine with concrete balls back in the late 1970s to toughen him up. The grandson wasn’t spared this, though he may have escaped with fewer bruises. At the dinner table even now, Tagenarine adds, Khemraj dominates the conversation that centres for a large part around cricket.

Though his stance might not be as idiosyncratic as his father, Tagenarine says there are many similarities. Their careers too have followed similar paths, with the youngster making his first-class debut for Guyana at 16, one year younger than Shivnarine had been when he debuted in regional cricket in 1992.

In March 2013, they became only the second West Indian father-son combination to play first-class cricket together, when they turned up for Guyana against Trinidad & Tobago.

I can’t tell you how proud grandad was,” Tagenarine laughs. “We didn’t get to bat together but I did have to behave with dad around.

A few months later, the father and son found themselves in opposition camps when the Stainsby Hall Cricket Club represented by Tagenarine faced a Derbyshire team that included Shivnarine. The match even saw an intense contest between father and son, and Tagenarine believes he had the upper hand.

We bowled to each other. Who conceded more runs? Him, him, him. He bowled seam-up and I hit him for a six and a four. When I bowled, he could only knock me around for a single or two,” quips Tagenarine, who is better known as Brandon, a name given to him by his maternal grandmother.

It is this confidence that holds the 17-year-old in good stead as he steels himself for the inevitable comparisons with his father. Admitting that his chest swells up every time he walks up the road leading to the Bourda ground, now called the Shiv. Chanderpaul Drive, Tagenarine says: “It’s nice to be a Chanderpaul because of the great reputation that my dad has created. But I try not to think too much about it and try to be myself.