When West Indies and South Africa play their first match of the ICC Under-19 World Cup at Dubai International Cricket Stadium on Friday (February 14), it will pit two players with very contrasting yet equally inspiring tales against each other.
By the time Tagenarine Chanderpaul was born in 1996, his father Shivnarine was already an established Test cricketer. Chanderpaul Jr honed his skills well enough to play alongside his father for Guyana in a regional four-day game last year, hence becoming one half of a rare pair at the first-class level.
It’s a wonderful narrative of a son following in his father’s footsteps.
At the other end of the spectrum is the story of Clyde Fortuin, South Africa’s wicketkeeper and opening batsman.
Born in Cape Town, Fortuin was brought up by Dion Langeveldt and Cynthia Langeveldt – his foster parents – after his mother, Connie, was unable to raise him. Dion, who Fortuin calls ‘Dad’, introduced him to cricket and he immediately grabbed the interest of Charles Fourie, a cricket lover.
Under Fourie, Fortuin was making good progress when Dion passed away because of a lung disease. Fortuin was 11 then, and growing up in Walmer Estate – a notorious suburb of Cape Town – was difficult. However, Fortuin kept the distractions at bay and worked hard to make his luck count. Early last year, he made his debut for South Africa Colts against England U-19 at home. They won the series 5-0 and Fortuin was named the best batsman. He carried his good form to India, where he was instrumental in South Africa making it to the quadrangular series final in September-October last year.
While Chanderpaul Jr is regarded as a dour batsman with enormous patience like his father, Fortuin is easy on the eyes like his idol, AB de Villiers. His class was evident in South Africa’s warm-up game against India, where he remained unbeaten on 112 and at no point looked perturbed by the spinners, who he stepped out against with appreciable ease. In that match, Fortuin came across as someone with lots of time to play his strokes, and each of his shots had an element of purity about them.
As for the South African team itself, two convincing warm-up wins meant that the players were allowed to take a day off from practice ahead of the tournament proper.
Chanderpaul Jr, too, had a good workout in the warm-ups, scoring 62 against New Zealand. Apart from him, West Indies have Shimron Hetmyer and Jeremy Solozano, two southpaws, Ramaal Lewis, an offspinner and the captain of the team, and Jerome Jones, the left-arm medium pacer – all of who have impressed in the recent past.
But West Indies, who had an extended nets session on Thursday, come into the tournament after losing to Bangladesh at home and being forced to leave Chittagong after one game because of a bomb explosion close to their hotel in early December. Compared to them, South Africa have a more settled look about them.
The batting abilities of Fortuin and the others is well backed up by a strong bowling unit including Kagiso Rabada, Yaseen Valli, Jason Dill and Bradley Dial, who joined the side as a replacement for Dayyaan Galiem, the seamer, who left for home after the first practice match against Namibia due to a knee injury.
But despite the bigger contest and the other proven performers in their ranks, it be will hard for Chanderpaul Jr and Fortuin to stay away from the spotlight for long. While the world’s eyes will be on how they build their careers, they would be more than eager to get their teams off to a winning start. A defeat first up, however, won’t make their stories any less intriguing.
West Indies U-19: Ramaal Lewis (capt), Nicolas Pooran, Jonathan Drakes, Fabian Allen, Tagenarine Chanderpaul, Bryan Charles, Tristan Coleman, Shimron Hetmyer, Jerome Jones, Ray Jordan, Brandon King, Preston McSween, Marquino Mindley, Gudakesh Motie, Jeremy Solozano.
South Africa U-19: Aiden Markram (capt), Bradley Bopp, Corbin Bosch, Dirk Bruwer, Kirwin Christoffels, Bradley Dial, Justin Dill, Clyde Fortuin, Sibonelo Makhanya, Greg Oldfield, Andile Phehlukwayo, Kagiso Rabada, Jason Smith, Yaseen Valli, Ngazibini Sigwili.
Other matches on Friday
Canada U-19 v Zimbabwe U-19 in Abu Dhabi
United Arab Emirates U-19 v England U-19 in Abu Dhabi
New Zealand U-19 v Sri Lanka U-19 in Sharjah