April 13, 2006

More a push than a jump

Chanderpaul wouldn't have quit the captaincy unless it was clear he had no choice. It's as simple as that

'Was his poor form rubbed in his face? ... He wouldn't have jumped unless it was clear he had no choice' © Getty Images
Pushed, or did he jump? Shivnarine Chanderpaul's resignation as West Indies captain raised the question. Many have called for his head on account of the team's unbroken run of defeats, and there were those who felt sure he would resign once the team returned from New Zealand. Instinct tells me that Chanderpaul was more likely to have been pushed out the gaping captain's window that has been the exit of half a dozen in the last decade.

Chanderpaul is not a jumper. His character is one of tenacity and doggedness. He would hang in, hang on; go down to the wire. He is a man who wanted the captaincy. He felt he deserved it, even when people were saying that it was thrust upon his unprepared shoulders.

He was prepared to take it in the middle of an industrial relations dispute between the West Indies Cricket Board and the West Indies Players' Association. It was an impasse that saw nearly all of his team-mates coming down on the side opposite his and that did not give him pause.

He wanted the captaincy that badly. Even if he found little support within the team, even when he hinted that his opinions carried no weight with coach Bennett King, even when the team continued to flounder under his watch, he would not contemplate giving it up. Not on his own. It just isn't Chanderpaul. So the question is more likely, how hard was he pushed? Was it a gentle nudge or a violent shove? Was his poor form rubbed in his face? Was he made to realise that his captaincy lacked sparkle and strategy? He wouldn't have jumped unless it was clear he had no choice. It's as simple as that.

His resignation was offered with immediate effect, so as to "give me an opportunity to focus on my batting and other areas of my cricket. He also said, "I have served my time as the captain and would like to pass the mantle on to another person. I would fully support my replacement, and work towards the good of the team."

Next question is: who's up for the chopping block now?

The name being bandied about is Ramnaresh Sarwan, and perhaps as vice captain he is next in line. But there were two others in the wings, Denesh Ramdin and Chris Gayle, and it is anyone's guess which will be the chosen one. The Zimbabwe and India encounters are right around the corner. The replacement must be named quickly. Hardly anyone has raised the possibility of a third return to the captaincy by Brian Lara. Perhaps his WICB relations have been too strained for that. With things going the way the do, it might very well be a case of third time lucky for the old Lara. One never knows.

Vaneisa Baksh is a freelance journalist based in Trinidad