Tuesday, April 16, 2024

A THORNY ISSUE: Retiring gracefully


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WEST INDIANS holding public office find it difficult to walk away on their own terms.

It is seen in areas like politics and sports on a regular basis and you wonder why they seem to prefer the ugly spectacle of being pushed.

The thing is that there is enough history that should be used as a guide to help them make decisions that would negate the prospect of public humiliation.

Still, history continues to repeat itself.

I hope I am wrong because he has been an excellent servant for West Indies cricket but Shivnarine Chanderpaul may very well end his outstanding career as a solid, reliable middle order batsman suffering the same fate as some of his former colleagues if he’s not careful.

Several of the players of match-winning teams led by Clive Lloyd and Sir Viv Richards, of which Chanderpaul was a part, had their careers terminated in very bitter circumstances. shivshot0708

They would argue that given the yeoman service they gave to West Indies cricket, they deserved the opportunity to decide when they would finish, and they may have been right in that assessment, but the reality is that when an organisation believes your best productive years have passed, your shelf life becomes limited and it is only a matter of time before you are shown the exit.

In this regard, people ought to take off the blinkers and face reality. Acceptance will foster a dignified transition to your fate and consequently to your future.

For many of those in public life, it might be hard to leave the spotlight, the adoration of fans will be a thing of the past as new lights emerge to shine, and they become just another statistic in society’s pyramid.

Of course, if you have reached the cricketing apex like a Chanderpaul your name will still be referenced in relevant discussions about the game so that might serve as a consolation.

But is the average individual who is used to having their name on every tongue contented with that?

Will the cloak of ordinary citizenry be a good or perfect fit for some?

I might not be spot on in my observations and analysis in every case but I believe these are some of the areas people have to rationalise and contend with once they are approaching a particular twilight in their careers.

We have seen some former cricketers who have managed to maintain a high public profile by becoming commentators and in some instances journalists, and to their credit they have been very successful.

I am not close enough to Chanderpaul to make a call on what he will do after cricket but I believe he has considered what his next move will be after his playing career is over.

Once you’re 40 plus in any sport and playing at the highest level, it is only a matter of time when you will be returning to the comfort of the pavilion for the last time. There is no reason to be sentimental about this; it has to be accepted like the face you see in the mirror.

chanderpaulglancingThe Guyanese batting icon isn’t far from reaching this destination and I would love to see him go on his own terms. For me, it isn’t so much a case that he hasn’t been as prolific in the middle in the most recent series but I just hate it when people of his standing are treated like dirt when the curtain is closing.

Some of our cricketing administrators have shown ruthless contempt and insensitivity to the feelings of the legends, on whose immortal contributions they must still rely to help inspire and motivate the generation to whom the baton is passed in the quest for excellence.

Chanderpaul is the quintessence of what you need the future generation of West Indies cricketers to be like in terms of dedication, industry, passion and loyalty and I hope he avoids the quicksand that many of the past found themselves in.

However, he needs to be in control of his own destiny having worked diligently to be accorded that voluntary right and privilege.

Time isn’t necessarily on his side and whatever he decides should be done soonest. He doesn’t deserve to be pushed.


• Andi Thornhill is an experienced, award-winning sports journalist. email:andithornhill@gmail.com.


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