Nandu commits to online studies while prepping for U-19 World Cup
By Avenash Ramzan
It’s January 14, 2022.
The start of the 14th edition of the ICC Men’s Under-19 World Cup, the first-ever to be hosted in the Caribbean.
West Indies, the host nation, with the burden of expectation on the shoulders of 15 young men from across the region, open the tournament with a clash against three-time champions Australia at the National Stadium, Providence.
While the fervent hope is for 2016 champions West Indies to become the first host nation- since Australia in the inaugural tournament in 1988- to lift the World Cup, the eyes of Guyanese would be focused on the batting exploits of an emerging talent who is named after a famous son of Port Mourant.
Matthew Rohan Nandu is a diminutive Canada-based Guyanese left-handed opener, touted to lead the next generation of West Indies batsmen.
Matthew’s parents- his father Arjune played youth cricket for Guyana and West Indies- grew up two houses away from the legendary Guyana and West Indies batsman Rohan Kanhai, and naming their son after the cricketing great seemed the natural thing to do.
And while Matthew is working meticulously every day to refine his obvious talent- with the hope of one day achieving the heights of his idols Shivnarine Chanderpaul and Brian Lara- he is also managing online studies even in the height of preparation for his most significant cricket endeavour to date.
The 18-year-old is currently reading for a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology at Wilfred Laurier University in Ontario, Canada.
On the eve of the World Cup, Matthew was zoned in on his laptop in his hotel room, getting one final session in before the big day at Providence.
Remarkable commitment, dedication and adaptability
His brother Marcus, who along with their father Arjune flew into the country to view the tournament opener, told News Room Sport that Matthew has the uncanny ability to switch effortlessly between cricket and academics without one affecting the other.
“During the off days when not much cricket is going on, he prioritises his school work and looks to get ahead so that he can focus more on cricket during game days and practice sessions,” Marcus explained.
“He also lives in the present, so when he’s at practice he’s only thinking about practice and when he’s studying, he’s only thinking about his studies.”
“Hunger and ambition”, Marcus pointed out, are the greatest attributes of his smaller brother.
“He always gives his best efforts whether it be on the field or in class and he always finds ways to stay motivated to chase his goals. Once he’s accomplished those, he looks to set new ones and achieve them.”
Support from a distance
Since arriving in Guyana, Marcus and his father have had no physical contact with Matthew, as strict COVID-19 protocols in place for the tournament means only virtual communication is permitted.
Outside of WhatsApp video calls, Marcus and Arjune had the opportunity to see Matthew in person for the first time in weeks when West Indies played India in a warm-up game on Sunday last.
Matthew scored 52, but West Indies lost.
“It’s been difficult because you want to be there for him and support him, but at the same time, keeping your distance is the best thing you can do to keep him safe,” Marcus said.
Today at Providence, the Nandu’s would again be watching from a distance, praying and hoping that Matthew can deliver on home turf and start the tournament on a high.
As Marcus retired to bed on the eve of the tournament bowl-off, contemplating the cricket and academic future of his brother, he sent a simple, but profound text: “Go out there, give it your best and enjoy every minute of it. Good luck.”