A Letter to Shivnarine Chanderpaul, by Jimmy Adams
Nov. 8, 2022, 11:34 p.m.
Following the ICC Hall of Fame announcement on 8 November 2022, open letters have been written to the inductees by those close to them, with their reactions to the news. Here, Jimmy Adams writes to Shivnarine Chanderpaul.
It was nearly three decades ago that I got to share a room with a 19-year-old from Guyana who I am proud to say became a great batting partner, roommate, friend, and now ICC Hall of Fame member.
I am thrilled that you are getting the recognition for everything you did for cricket in the West Indies and globally. I am not sure I ever met someone who worked harder at their craft, and it is testament to that work and sacrifice that even as the team’s fortunes met challenges, you got better and better.
I still remember the first time I heard your name. We were told about this young kid from Guyana, thin as a pencil, not the strongest but who nobody could get out.
When they picked you as a teenager for that Test in England in 1994, it raised eyebrows, my own included. I had never seen you play and there was a sense that you had jumped the queue. Two decades and more than 10,000 Test runs later, it is fair to say, the selectors got it right on that occasion.
We were roommates for most of my career from that tour onwards and as well as the trust that developed over that time, it’s fair to say you taught me a lot both about cricket as well as life in general.
I think the biggest lesson is that there are no excuses. I look at how you got to the top and stayed there for as long as you did despite all the challenges you faced. You are a symbol to kids from difficult backgrounds that anything, including greatness, is possible. I’ve spoken to many youngsters who held you up as a role model and who believed that “If Shiv could do it, I can do it.”
I hold you up as the example of what can be - the possibilities that exist. You opened my mind up to the fact that if you get a young kid who is willing and tries, never ever put a ceiling on him/her. We all knew you were talented, but if you had said 10,000 Test runs over 20 years...!!!! That happened because you adapted and kept adapting and kept working. If you ran into an obstacle, you would seek help and would grow. No one gave you that attitude, its something you brought with you wherever you went. Watching you grow and evolve over the past 30 years has cemented some of my own life philosophies on who, when and where to invest my own time and energies. Again, I am truly grateful for these lessons.
Your numbers are outrageous, and lots of people will focus on them. But what resonates with me is just how much it took me firstly to get to the international stage and secondly how much it needed for me to hang around for 10 years. You did it for 20!!! The effort and the sacrifice just boggle my mind!
It is hard to quantify just how great your legacy is. You started in a winning team, and along with Brian Lara, as the team became less formidable, your personal contributions got greater and greater. It was a reminder that you can even rise above the fortunes of any group if you work hard enough. It is easy to ride on the bandwagon of a successful team, but you were able to set impossibly high standards and maintain them even as the rest of the team struggled.
It was amazing watching, not only your cricket maturing, but you as a person. From a shy, introverted teenager, you grew into someone who would go on to become captain of the team. Where many others have chosen to hide deficiencies and flaws behind their on-field success, you from a very young age, confronted yours and invested the time in your personal development. Watching this transformation from close-up was truly inspirational.
You had so many truly memorable knocks over the years that I might struggle to say which one, for me, stands shoulders above the rest. However, the greatest standout for me is simply the fact that you “sat at the table” for 20 years!!
Having said that, if I have to pick out one, it is impossible not to mention the 69-ball hundred against Australia at your home ground in Guyana. I was not in the team by that point but watched all of it from a studio in the UK. The innings resonates with me simply because it was proof to me that there was far more to you and your game than the world, and maybe even you, gave yourself credit for.
I stand in awe of what you did over 20 years of international cricket. People will never understand how difficult it is. As a batting partner, you made it easier for all of us. For me, knowing that I had a rock at the other end just took away a lot of the pressure and allowed me to focus totally on my own game. I'm sure many others who had the opportunity to bat with you will say the same.
I hope this award justifies to you the value of the sacrifices you made from day one. And I know this award is not just for you. I think of your family – your father and uncles who were always willing to bowl to you for hours and hours in those early years. No doubt this award will, in part, recognize them and the rest of your family as well.
I know I speak for many fans of the game, who will be pleased that you are being officially recognized for your immense contribution not just to West Indies cricket, but to world cricket as well.
Well done my friend.