Brian Lara has berated the West Indies selectors and the WICB for seeking to deny Shivnarine Chanderpaul the chance of a final Test series against Australia, demanding that his former teammate be reinstated for a farewell along the lines of that given to Sachin Tendulkar by the BCCI.
Chanderpaul, 40, was omitted from the West Indies training squad ahead of their two Tests against Australia following a significant downturn in his run-making during his two most recent series, where his average dipped to little more than 16 over six matches.
However, Lara said that Chanderpaul's contribution to the game, which left him narrowly short of surpassing Lara as the most prolific Test batsman in the history of the Caribbean region, merited a more respectful farewell than the one ultimately decided on by convenor of selectors Clive Lloyd and coach Phil Simmons.
"This has absolutely nothing to do with runs or numbers," Lara told the Trinidad and Tobago Guardian. "It has to do with respect and Chanderpaul has earned the right to say goodbye in an acceptable way. In fact, he should be allowed to do it in his own way.
"The manner in which they deal with their players is despicable and should no longer be tolerated. When you look back to so many of our heroes and the manner in which they were dumped, it makes you shudder."
Lara contrasted Chanderpaul's fate with that of Tendulkar, who was granted a specially scheduled Test series at home against West Indies to end his own storied career. "What did they do?" Lara asked. "They organised a Test series in his honour and gave him a farewell in keeping with his contribution to the game.
"In that way, there will be no hostility and whether he makes a double-century or a duck, it doesn't matter, it will be his farewell series and the entire cricketing world will know that. He deserves it. The WICB and the Caribbean owe it to Shiv to send him off with dignity and respect. He has earned it."
These strong words followed those uttered by the Guyana Cricket Board secretary Anand Sanasie, also a WICB director. Sanasie said that the WICB president Dave Cameron had petitioned the selectors for a more generous view of Chanderpaul's situation but had been rebuffed.
"Let me make it clear that the president and vice-president and myself tried our best to get Shiv retained. In the end the selectors have the final say," Sanasie told a press conference in Guyana. "So to those who say that this is a WICB decision, that is not true . Shiv was never told that the match in Barbados (against England) was his last and they wanted to cover up a wrong with another wrong.
"We trust that our selectors can find it within themselves to revisit this crucial matter of gross disrespect now being meted out to one of the greatest cricketers to have graced the field of play with this most ungrateful display to Chanderpaul. Shiv's record speaks for itself and we are shocked at the manner that this panel is seeking to destroy him."
The 12 members of the West Indies training squad are currently in Barbados, preparing for the two Tests to be played in Dominica and Jamaica.