Chandrapaul Hemraj: ‘I kept believing I will play for West Indies’

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By Akeem Greene

Cricket, termed the gentleman’s game, has a known history dating back to the 16th century. Since that time, a plethora of players donned the whites or in the modern era, the coloured clothing.

Some have failed miserably, some not reaching their true potential and some making an imprint that may never be erased.

The common element which embodies the timelines and the individual tribulations is talent, which is a glaring facet of top-order batsman Chandrapaul Hemraj.

His numbers will not by any stretch of imagination leave you mind-boggled, but this is one player, where stats are only the face value, his underlying talent is being positive, a characteristic of all the modern successful greats.

After 28 matches (excluding T20s) at senior level for native Guyana and Windies A, he has a lone century and eight fifties. The triple figure came on Sunday last in the ongoing Cricket West Indies Super50 tournament in Trinidad and Tobago.

If you missed it, the unbeaten 103 from 80 balls was scintillating to say the least. Maybe, if it was the old black and white screens, we would think just slightly, it was one of the greats from the past at the crease with the audacious stroke-play exhibited.

Coincidently, the landmark came with another since CWI announced their squads for limited overs tour to India and the name Chandrapaul Hemraj was on the ODI list.

“I always had my eyes on playing for WI [West Indies] and it was just a different feeling when I got the call,” the left-handed batsman told News Room Sport this week.

He had a fluent 2017-18 season with many starts, but was unable to convert to the big scores. Even in the 50-over leg of the Tri-Series involving India A, and host England Lions, he was Windies A most successful batsman with 133 runs after four matches, but his highest score was only 45.

“It was very important [to get the century] because I was getting the starts and not converting. So it was pleasing for me. I enjoy playing one-day cricket and I know it was just a matter of time before I scored a 100 at this level.”

One test has been completed and another awaits; touring in one of the most difficult conditions against arguably the best 50-over team in the world. According to the former Windies Under-19 player, the mantra will remain the same.

“Of course I will continue playing positive cricket. I never played at that level, but I will surely back myself and ability to perform”, the first player from Strathavon to make a Windies squad confidently stated.

Sometimes, it is unfathomable to think this lad who holds a reservoir of talent, took a self-imposed exile from the game during the 2014-2015 season after a string of low scores. Well, that’s history and he will now front proudly his maroon attire, a childhood dream coming through at the age of 25.

“Even when I was out of cricket, something inside of me keep believing that I will play cricket for WI. So even when I was out I was still thinking about playing at the highest level.”

The 39 year-old Chris Gayle’s destruction at the international level is in its final hour and his touted replacement Evin Lewis is not yet the polished product, so opportunities won’t be far for Hemraj.

It is now about seizing the moment, especially with 2019 Cricket World Cup on the horizon.

The five One-Day Internationals run from October 21 to November 1.

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