Windies dream closer to reality for Chandrapaul Hemraj

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By Akeem Greene

Growing up in the village of Strathavon, East Coast Demerara, meant having the usual street cricket battles with neighbours, watching some great players on television or reading about them in the daily newspaper.

While taking it all in, Chandrapaul Hemraj had on his mind ‘my time will come someday.’

Now at age 24, the audacious top-order batsman is on the doorsteps of international cricket should his rich vein of domestic form transcends into Windies ‘A’ colours.

The Guyana Jaguars player is currently in England preparing for Windies ‘A’ Tri-Nation series with India and hosts England Lions from June 17- July 2.

Prior to departure from the Caribbean, News Room Sport reached out to the player to get an insight into his rapid ascension from Jaguars’ colours to Windies ‘A’ team.

Chandrapaul Hemraj shares a light moment with countryman Devendra Bishoo at a training camp in Antigua

“It’s a wonderful experience being with the ‘A’ team so far. Being a part of the ‘A’ team has risen my self-confidence and my motivation towards playing cricket at the highest level,” the left-hander conveyed.

Hemraj made his ‘A’ team debut this March when England Lions toured  the Caribbean. His one match in Antigua brought both joy and heartbreak.

He retired at the end of the first over, without facing a ball after suffering a hamstring injury.  He later returned towards the end of the innings, hitting two fours in 12. He was then out of competitive action for roughly six weeks.

That period in his life was a roller-coaster of emotions as he was also drafted by St. Lucia Stars for the sixth edition of the Hero Caribbean Premier League and as many professional sportsmen and women say, trials and tribulations only make you stronger.

“I consider my injury as a test to my career, but it pushed me to work harder, along with the support I had around me. Being with the ‘A’ team I’m doing much more work on my fitness and technical work on my batting. I believe in myself and my talent,” the young batting maestro declared.

Chandrapaul Hemraj was Guyana Jaguars leading runscorer in the Regional Four-day last season

For those not tracking the progress of dashing batsman, he racked up 623 runs at an average of 36.64, inclusive of five half-centuries, which piloted him into fifth place on the overall championship charts for the 2017-18 Professional Cricket League.

He was Guyana Jaguars leading runscorer as the franchise copped a fourth straight Regional Four-day title.

It must be said all this was achieved after he took a self-imposed exile from the game during the 2014-2015 season following a string of low scores.

But as the popular saying goes, ‘form is temporary, but class is permanent’, Hemraj, who plays for city side Everest Cricket Club, came back with a bang which has left a lasting echo.

In the 2016 Jaguars Franchise League, he recovered from a slow start with the East Coast Demerara franchise and amassed 566 runs, the fourth most in the tournament, with a record top score of 250 not out.

Deciphering the 2017-18 season, shots were never an issue for him at the crease since he has a suitcase load of them.

The problem came as he was not converting his starts into triple-figure scores. In 17 First-Class matches, he has six half centuries, highest of which is 90.

However, the former West Indies Under-19 player is optimistic about reaching that landmark soon.

“I know once I spend longer time at the crease I will convert those starts into hundreds,” he concluded.

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