By Sean Devers in Trinidad
In association with Regal, Vnet,
Noble House Seafoods & Cascadia Hotel
Since growing up in the Village of Strathavon in Cane Grove, East Coast of Demerara, Chanderpaul Hemraj dreamt of being like his favourite batsman Brian Lara who played International cricket for the West Indies and to make his debut in India.
Hemraj had taken a year’s sabbatical from Guyana’s cricket in 2016 after becoming frustrated by not being picked for his Country after making his First-Class debut against Trinidad as an 18-year-old in 2012.
He was selected on the ‘A’ team for the home series against England Lions and pulled a hamstring in the first game while batting before touring the UK three months later with the Windies ‘A’.
“When I got the call even though I had scored the most runs in the 50-over games for Windies ‘A’ in England, the news came as a surprise…. I was very excited since it was my dream to make my debut in India. I am really looking forward to doing well on the field and seeing India, especially Mumbai since I am a big Mumbai Indians fan,” said Hemraj, who turned 25 on September 3.
“I wanted to score a hundred before I left for India and make an impact for the team (Jaguars). I was 12 when we last won a 50-over title but I think this is a good team and more importantly everyone is enjoying each other success and supporting each other and once we continue to play positive cricket anything is possible,” said Hemraj.
The pugnacious left-hander came through the Guyana and West Indies youth ranks and gained Fist-Class selection from his West Indies youth performances but did not make the type of transition to higher level as he wanted.
“I played a couple of First-Class games but did not have the success I am having now but it made me grow and look at life in a different perspective,” said Hemraj whose most memorable innings was his maiden ton last Sunday.
“It was a good feeling to get a century since I had been getting starts without going on,” said Hemraj who played a season with East Coast before moving to Everest at age 14.
Hemraj has played 19 First-Class games in a career broken in two parts and has six fifties with highest score of 90. He made his list ‘A’debut in the last Regional Super50 and has played 20 times at this level and has two fifties and a century. Hemraj also played for the St. Lucia Stars in this year’s CPL.
Hemraj, who played four months here and four months in the USA during the period he had given up on Guyana’s cricket, plans to make the most of this opportunity as he still dreams of one day playing in a winning would Cup Team.
Hemraj, one of four siblings (three boys and a girl) informed that he comes from a cricketing family.
“Ever since I was small I wanted to play at the highest level. My dad is 51 and still plays for our Village team, while both of my brothers play cricket,” said Hemraj who attended the Strathavon Primary and the Bygeval Secondary.
“I stopped playing cricket when I was preparing for CXC. My dad did not want me to stop but mom said an education is important so I wrote nine subjects and got five ones, three twos and a three,” revealed Hemraj whose favourite subject is Maths.
Although he was born the year after Shiv Chanderpaul made his First-Class debut in 1992 Hemraj said his first name has nothing to do with Shiv.
Hemraj said he came back from the US at the end of 2016 and played three games in the GCB 50-over Franchise League. He scored a hundred in the second game and feels this was an influencing factor in him being determined to get back into the Guyana team.
“I was offered an Academy contract for a year and got $75,000 (Guy dollars) which was not much but that made me think I could still fulfil my desire to once again play for Guyana and the West Indies,” disclosed Hemraj, who is engaged and still lives in Cane Grove.
His cricket career began to move forward once again and in 2017 after scoring 250 in the three-day Franchise League at the Imam Bacchus ground on the Essequibo Coast and a successful ‘National trials’ he had to deal with the frustration of having to wait until the eighth round of the Regional four-day tournament to return to the team. Hemraj scored 54 against the Windwards.
In the 2017/2018 Regional four-day tournament Hemraj enjoyed his best season, scoring the most runs for Guyana and was turned into an opening batsman, a position he has occupied since then.
“In the third game I was asked to open the batting. I had never opened the batting before at any level but I took it as a challenge and I am enjoying it now,” Hemraj who loves sightseeing and listening to music said.
Hemraj’s favourite dish is Bar-B-Q Chicken and fried Plantain and he said by the next five years he wants to be established in the Windies side.
When asked about T20 contracts since his batting is well suited for that format, Hemraj said his main focus is to play for the Windies and if anything comes after that it’s a bonus.
A Hindu, Hemraj thanked God for making this opportunity possible and said his family and very good close friends are the ones responsible for whatever success he has achieved.
“In terms of my cricket (Devendra) Bishoo has kept encouraging me and giving me advice….even this morning (Wednesday) he called from India to tell me he was upset how I got out last night (Tuesday),” Hemraj informed.
In his last game before leaving for India, Hemraj had hit Guyanese born pacer Dillion Heyliger for six fours in an over to race to 33 before top edging a hook off Romesh Don to short fine leg.
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