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FEATURE: The resurgence of Chandrapaul Hemraj

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Today we feature a young batsman, who is now enjoying his game more than ever, after taking a one year break from competitive cricket. You’ll also read that his desire to play at the highest level is very much alive, but he is also aware that his destiny is not totally in his hands.

By Avenash Ramzan

A 23-year-old left-handed middle-order batsman, Chandrapaul Hemraj hails from the East Coast Demerara village of Strathavon.

A former West Indies Under-19 player, young Hemraj has appeared in five First-Class matches for Guyana, the last of which was against the Leeward Islands in April 2014.

After being sidelined by the national selectors after scoring 131 runs in 10 innings, the former Guyana youth player proceeded on a one year break, staying clear of competitive cricket.

He returned this year with a bang though, topping East Coast Demerara runs tally in the second annual Jaguars Franchise League Three-day, a competition that replaced the tradition Inter-county tournament.

He ended the seven-round tournament with 566 runs, the fourth most in the tournament, behind Tagenarine Chanderpaul (635), Kandasammy Surujnarine (607) and Jonathon Foo (580).

Hemraj was also one of only six batsmen to score over 500 runs in the eight-team, round-robin competition, the others being Bhaskar Yadram (547) and Assad Fudadin (531).

“I think the break that I took helped me. I went away and then at the start of the [Jaguars Franchise League] tournament, I didn’t have a good start. I think the first three games I didn’t get much runs. But just the way I think, that helped to improve my cricket, and I did some technical work on my batting. That was basically it,” Hemraj told News Room Sport on Monday.

Chandrapaul Hemraj being interviewed by News Room's Avenash Ramzan on Monday
Chandrapaul Hemraj being interviewed by News Room’s Avenash Ramzan on Monday

But what really caused this young talented cricketer to take a self-imposed exile from the game, especially at a time when he was proudly wearing the country’s flag, the Golden Arrowhead, on his chest?

“I was going through a bad patch and I felt I needed a break. But my family, they were the ones who kept supporting me you know- that I should still continue playing cricket, and I’m thankful for the break that I got in the last tournament,” the young batsman revealed.

In that tournament, Hemraj had a slow start where he had scores of 0, 12, 4, 34 and 24, before ending the tournament on a high, racking up scores of 81, 91 and the competition’s highest individual score- 250 not out.

“That was an amazing feeling you know. I always wanted to score a double century and I think I scored it at the right time,” he pointed out. Such levels of consistency and productivity have once again placed Hemraj on the selectors’ radar.

Many pundits believe the elegant left-hander should have been in the Guyana Jaguars squad for the ongoing Professional Cricket League Four-day tournament, but for now he is honing his skills with the Academy set-up being coordinated by Cricket Guy Inc. under the watchful eyes of coaches Michael Franco Hyles and Clive Grimmond.

“I joined the camp last December and I could see the improvement in my cricket from then to now,” Hemraj asserted.

Despite the short break from the game, Hemraj has not lost sight of his goals, and now with renewed confidence, he is working assiduously to ensure those aspirations are met.

“I think I’m close now to representing the country once again, and hopefully whenever I get that opportunity I could kick on and make West Indies team. That has always been my dream growing up,” the soft-spoken cricketer indicated.

Chandrapaul Hemraj during training at the CGI Academy at the Everest ground on Monday
Chandrapaul Hemraj during training at the CGI Academy at the Everest ground on Monday

The 12 months out of the game resulted in the batsman putting on some mass; however, with that extra weight came strength, something he has utilised effectively to clear the in-field with more frequency since his return.

The hiatus has also given him a new perspective, not just about cricket, but life in general. “Before time I just wanted to play cricket all the time and play for Guyana all the time, but now I feel I’m more mentally strong. Now I just come out and do what I have to do- control the things that I can take control of and just enjoy the cricket.”

With seven rounds remaining in the Professional Cricket League Four-day and the Regional Super50 starting in January, Hemraj’s name would no doubt be on the selectors’ minds.

It’s a break that he is very much looking forward to. If and when that materialises, his aim would certainly be to rectify his First-Class record and grab the attention of the West Indies selectors.

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