By Lloyd Jodah
It was a quick trip to the USA, yet International Superstar Shiv Chanderpaul took time to meet with college cricket players from the University of Florida (Gators) and the University of Central Florida (UCF) before heading to Guyana.

Chanderpaul recently became # 10 on the List of top Tests run scorers of all-time. He also has the 4th fastest century ever in Test cricket and has been the rock of the West Indies cricket team for at least the past 10 years.

Chanderapul, wearing the University of South Florida shirt, with UCF's Sai Ramesh.

Sai Ramesh UCF, who excelled at the 2010 American College Cricket Spring Break Championship, described the exciting evening:
“Thanks to American College Cricket President Lloyd Jodah, for letting I play a part in this momentous occasion! A cricket superstar of Chanderpaul’s stature visiting an American college campus! Truly unprecedented!
I asked Shiv if he would wear the UCF shirt and he accepted it with pleasure! Everyone was so thrilled seeing SHIV in the first place, plus sporting a UCF t-shirt was a great gesture! A humble celebrity, instead of just a speech he said we could ask him any questions!
Shiv and Chris promised that they would help set up training sessions for the UCF cricket players at the campus! It was an awesome experience…such a down to earth person! Truly amazing!

The University of Central Florida students and members of the Gators Cricket Club from the University of Florida were enthralled by the opportunity to meet, take photos with, and get autographs from the cricket superstar. Here are just a few of the rave reviews:
Priya Ravindran gushed: “Chanderpaul is one of the coolest celebrities! I had a wonderful experience!”
Mahadevan Vasudevan raved: “Amazing Batsman! Amazing Personality! Nice talking to him:”
Sundaram Saminathan was thrilled: “Was a great evening!!!”

The President of the Gators Cricket Club, Krishna Dase was pumped, he said:
“We were honored to have an opportunity to meet Shivnarine Chanderpaul. The questions and photo sessions with him definitely boosted our player’s moral. This is so cool; it will help promote our cricket club at UF but also around Gainesville.”

Here are the questions asked by the College students, and Shiv Chanderpaul’s answers:

Who’s your best buddy on the West Indies team? “Chris Gayle, he’s a very quiet guy…very funny…very easy to get along with.”

Who do you think is the best batsman in the world? “Sachin”

What do you think of other Indian batsmen?  “I like to watch Laxman and Sehwag…the time they have to play their shots is incredible, especially against someone with the speed of Shoaib Akhtar.”

Fastest bowler you’ve faced?  “Shoiab Akhtar, Alan Donald, Brett Lee, Tait…Malinga is a bit fast, Shane Bond too. But you try not to play “name” cricket, keep it simple, cricket is between a bat and a ball…don’t complicate it.”

Chanderpaul with Gators Cricket's Krishna Dase.

What do you do to prepare for a tour or series in different countries?  “In Guyana the wicket plays similar to India. To prepare for South Africa, Australia or New Zealand… I bat on astro-turf with a bowling machine to get the bounce. If I don’t have that around I practice on concrete, sometimes with tape balls.”

Do you think Usain Bolt would have been a good cricketer?  “Probably, he bowled Chris Gayle in a game….I think he’s a better runner though.”

What team do you really look forward to playing against? “You always want to do well against is Australia…they bring the best out of you .They are very tough, especially in Australia.”

How do you respond to sledging? “I don’t say anything ……I answer with my bat…”

Do you say anything when you’re fielding?  “I support my bowlers.”

Why doesn’t the West Indies produce the fast bowlers it used to? “There are many reasons but one is, there is not a lot of money in cricket in the Caribbean….if you play cricket all the time, and don’t finish school, what job can you get? Parents are not happy about that. But cricket is changing for the better, with IPL and other such tournaments bringing opportunities into the game. ”

What do you think of the shorter format like 20/20s? “It’s not either, or….I love Test cricket…and I also think the short format is good for the sport and is helping improve the game. A 20/20 game can fit into a spectator’s evening, after work. It’s important that the game fit in people’s lives.”

How do you adjust from playing a 20/20 game to a Test Match and isn’t the short form bad for technique?  “It’s a lot of hard work. You play 20/20 with a lot of aggression practically every ball and it can affect technique, but if you can’t adjust…well that’s why a player might specialize in one form. That’s part of being a professional athlete.”

What do you think about the idea of breaking the ODI’s into parts? “It is complex, for instance it will break up a batsman’s innings, and they’ll have to play themselves back in.”

How do you work on your stamina? “I spend hours daily. I practice and I go to the gym and use weights, I run.”

How do you eat, to play? “The days before you want to make sure eat a lot of complex carbohydrates to give you energy, and drink a lot of fluids. ”

Before you go out to bat, do you do any kind of yoga or special thing? “Do whatever you feel will elevate your performance, I would say my mantras.”

What do you do when your cricket is not going well or who do you speak with?
“I examine what I’ve been doing…or call Chris my manager or Rohan Kanhai. Kanhai is always serious about cricket, and will tell you the tough truth, even if you feel hurt. Sometimes I don’t want to hear it but he knows what he’s speaking about, and his advice always helps. One time in Australia I got out and I heard an earful from Kanhai, so in the 2nd innings, though Brett Lee was sending down some thunderbolts I had to make runs…cause I didn’t want to hear it from Coach ( I call Kanhai Coach)”.

Chanderpaul told the students of UCF and UF:
“American College Cricket has accomplished a lot of things. A lot of teams are joining and coming on board with us……its the right place, at the college level….American College Cricket is going to cause Americans to pay more attention, learn the rules and its going to grow more. Young players are being inspired to play the game more. That’s why from the beginning when Lloyd asked me to be involved I said yes. ”

The national college championship for the Chanderpaul Trophy, the American College Cricket Spring Break Championship will be played March 15 -20, 2011 at the Cricket Stadium in Central Broward Regional Park. Regional Championships are taking place this Fall around the USA.