The Chanderpaul interview July 3, 2006

'The main focus is cricket'

On the fringes of the Jamaica Test Siddhartha Vaidyanathan spoke to Shivnarine Chanderpaul

Candid not crabby: 'My way is to just being more defensive and tight' © Getty Images

Liberated from the burden of captaincy and the various controversies surrounding West Indies cricket, the series against India was an opportunity for Shivnarine Chanderpaul to rediscover his form. Always formidable against the Indians, he managed an average of 43 in the four Tests including a 97 in the first innings in the touch-and-go third Test in St Kitts. Siddhartha Vaidyanathan caught up with him on the fringes of the Jamaica Test and got him to talk on some of the emerging talents in the Caribbean, his own defensive technique and his Indian roots.

Sometimes you come out and attack the ball, sometimes you try and block everything ...

It depends on your feelings. Sometimes you come out and are in that sort of mood, you go out and play differently. If you don't have that feeling, you just go out there and move the ball around and play the way you're accustomed to. My way is to just being more defensive and tight. Sometimes I do that but other times I feel good and come out and play a little more attacking. It all depends on the feelings.

You captained the West Indies when they were going through a tough phase. Tell us about it ...

Doing the job as captain always has its own pressures. We were having so much of problems between the players and board. Also, we weren't winning. So everything contributed to add more pressure. I've given it up now and Brian's [Lara] taken over and doing a good job. He's fully capable of doing it and he's got my full support. I've been there, done it and know what it's about. I know how important it is for the captain to have support of his mates.

Was it one of your toughest challenges?

Losing most of the games made it a bit harder. But it's a challenging job, a good experience and you learn a lot from it. Then you have to move on and pass on the responsibility to someone else.

Did it take some time for the guys to get used to the new coaching staff ...

When a new coach and his staff come in, it's a bit different. They come up with different methods, ones you are not accustomed to. You have to learn to adjust and move on. They're here to do a job and we've to do our job as well. It's sort of settled down now.

How optimistic are you about the young talent coming through in West Indies cricket?

We have some exciting talent out there. Dwayne Bravo is a bright talent we have. He's been doing well both home and away. He's been doing well with both bat and ball. Denesh Ramdin, Jerome Tayor and a couple of young fellows are doing well. Sarwan and Gayle are young themselves, Runako Morton has done pretty well too. We have some other good young fellows around. Once they stay around, you find that they keep improving. We have some good players in the Under-19 level as well. We need to make them get a feel of things, make them feel comfortable. Maybe by doing that we might help them.

What would you say to people who say that the current crop of cricketers are the party-loving kind without too much discipline?

Everything has a limit. You have to know your own limits and can't afford to overdo anything. You're here to play cricket and you need to focus on your game. But we have lives to live as well. It's important to enjoy your life but remember that the main focus is cricket. You can't compromise on that.

Tell us about your Indian connection ...

We grew up listening to Indian music and watching Indian movies back home. We still do those things. I've met Rishi Kapoor and Sunil Shetty. I've known the actors. It's something we enjoy since we were young. We keep a tab of what's been going on. Touring India was special. It was nice to go back to somewhere that your parents came from. It's always special to go down there and play some cricket, visit various places and admire the historical sites. There are so many religious shrines and me, being a devotee of Shiva, go down to certain religious places when I get the opportunity.

Siddhartha Vaidyanathan is staff writer of Cricinfo