Cricket: Salute to Shivnarine Chanderpaul

Salute to Shiv    ….   see his career stats here

Shivnarine Chanderpaul

Shivnarine Chanderpaul

NOVEMBER 15, 2013 · Stabroek News – EDITORIAL

Shivnarine Chanderpaul is this weekend playing in his 150th Test match, the only West Indian to do so. That he should be celebrating this landmark in Sachin Tendulkar’s historic 200th Test and swansong in front of his devotees in Mumbai is typical of the career of this most undemonstrative of batsmen and this most unassuming of cricketers. For, even as he has achieved greatness at the wicket, Chanderpaul has always seemed to be overshadowed by the more dashing exploits and more colourful personalities of other cricketers.

Ever since, as a skinny 19-year old whose kit was too big for him, he diffidently walked to the crease against England, in March 1994, on debut at Bourda, the ground that nurtured his precocious talent, he has, somehow or the other, never quite been able to measure up, in the eyes of many, to the flair and flamboyance associated with the legends of West Indies batting. For much of his career, he batted in the shadow of Brian Lara, sometimes even forgotten as the reassuring presence (still in his first Test series!) at the other end as the Trinidadian maestro progressed to his world record 375. 

His 69-ball century against the mighty Australians at Bourda in 2003 is generally regarded as an aberration and his vital 104 in West Indies’ historic world-record chase of 418 for victory in the final Test of that series, in Antigua, is also often forgotten. And even if he has not played the role of match winner enough in his career, he has more often than not played the role of match saver, fighting epic rearguards, the last bulwark of the West Indies in all too many lost causes and the wicket most prized by bowlers seeking victory.
Unperturbed by comparisons, in innings after innings, he has knocked a bail into the pitch to mark his guard (a habit now widely copied), assumed his crab-like stance (not copied at all) and single-mindedly set out his stall to wear down bowler after bowler and accumulate run after run (a method badly in need of copying by his infuriatingly inconsistent teammates).

And so, he has eclipsed many West Indies batting records along the way. Going into the current Test, his aggregate of 10,897 runs and his 28 centuries are second only to Lara among West Indians; his average of 51.89 is bettered only by George Headley, Everton Weekes, Garfield Sobers, Clyde Walcott and Lara, of West Indians to have played more than 20 Tests. More pertinently, perhaps, as the Indian writer Nagraj Gollapudi has pointed out in a tribute on the Cricinfo website, “from 2007, he has averaged 70.52 in 48 Tests. Among the 78 batsmen who have scored at least 1,000 runs during this period, no one, including Tendulkar, has averaged more.”

Chanderpaul was named one of Wisden’s Five Cricketers of the Year in 2007, a year when his performances prompted the leading West Indies cricket writer, Tony Cozier, to dub him the “rock” of West Indies batting, likening him to Headley, the Atlas who in the early years carried the team on his shoulders. In addition, Chanderpaul was ICC World Player of the Year in 2008, has been the number one Test batsman on three occasions, in 2008, 2009 and 2012, and is currently still ranked third.

He is the only Test player to bat for more than 1,000 minutes before being dismissed, four times. The Australian, David Warner, credits Chanderpaul with teaching him about occupying the crease, when they played together at Durham in 2011: “He batted on the bowling machine for six hours. I said, ‘This is ridiculous, how can you do this?’ And he said, ‘If you’re going to bat for six hours in a game you might as well practise it.’”

Nagraj Gollapudi writes, “Discipline, rigour, hard work have been Chanderpaul’s pillars of success, attributes that have contributed to his longevity.” And whilst this is a lesson seemingly lost on his teammates, in the midst of West Indies’ long and painful decline, we Guyanese would do well to pay heed.

Just think about it: the quiet man from the small village of Unity, from a country with a population of a mere 750,000, has been consistently ranked the best and amongst the best in the world, through dedication to his craft, an exemplary work ethic and sheer professionalism. If this is not a source of national pride and inspiration for us all, young and old, then we don’t know what is.

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  • Ishwar Prashad  On 11/15/2013 at 4:15 pm

    His steadfastness in the midst of chaos at the other end is the ultimate statement. He did not waver. He just carried on and if the kudos were limited and even grudgingly given, he was not deterred. He was not spectacular but he was dependent. His stance was crabby but it was productive and his dedication and determination are a shining example to any young batsman who is more interested in giving his all to the team rather than playing for his own glory. I think he will finally get his due when he is longer defiantly occupying the crease and belaboring bowlers. In the meantime, let us enjoy the master batsmen in his final glory.

  • Deen  On 11/15/2013 at 6:24 pm

    Shivnarine Chanderpaul, is certainly an extraordinary cricketer. He has adequately demonstrated he that he is a superior batsman who has consistently shown excellent performance to be rated the best and Number One batsman in the world on three occasions. Obviously, he has been denied the accolades he deserves among his peers, especially in the West Indies.

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