Tue | May 23, 2017

Tony Becca: Chanderpaul, the defiant one

Published:Sunday | June 14, 2015 | 6:00 AM
Shivnarine Chanderpaul

He was not selected for the first Test match against Australia, neither for the second Test, and at 40 years plus, he has not retired, at least, not yet. To West Indians everywhere, however, whether they like it or not, whether they like his style of batting or not, Shivnarine Chanderpaul is gone, obviously.

Chanderpaul, at his best, is not, or was not, but for one, or two, or possibly three or four memorable occasions, as adventurous or as exciting a batsman as Rohan Kanhai, he is not as elegant as Garry Sobers, he is not as majestic as Lawrence Rowe, he is not as arrogant or as explosive as Viv Richards, and he is not as glorious as Brian Lara.

In fact, despite his innings of 109 not out off 134 deliveries in a One-day match against India at Kensington Oval in 1997 which the West Indies won by 10 wickets, and despite hitting the last two deliveries of the final over from Chaminda Vass in a One-day match at Queen's Park Oval in 2008 against Sri Lanka for four and six to win the match by one wicket, Chanderpaul is not rated as either an exciting batsman or as a batsman of class.

And neither, despite smashing 100 off 69 deliveries, the third fastest ever at the time, in a losing effort against Australia in a Test match at Bourda in 2003, is Chanderpaul ever considered anything but a batsman for the rainy day.

In fact, by no stretch of the imagination, is he rated among the royalty of West Indies batsmanship, certainly not in the company of stroke-players or stroke-makers like George Headley, Frank Worrell, Everton Weekes, and Clyde Walcott, all of whom, and without a doubt, are rated among the best West Indies batsmen of all time.

Chanderpaul, whenever he puts away his bat, will be remembered as a dogged, quiet, easy-going batsman who is never in a hurry, who bats as if he is simply having a net, and for most of his career, while using a stance which looks like a crab.

A batsman's job, however, is to score runs, not simply to look pretty, and for 21 years Chanderpaul scored runs as plentiful as anyone, more than most, and in the end his 11,867 runs in a career which spanned 164 Test matches is seventh in Test cricket and second only to Lara's 11,953 among West Indies batsmen.

 

ranked 7th in west indies

 

Chanderpaul's average of 51.37 leaves him at seventh among West Indians and ahead of Richards who ended his illustrious career with 50.23, and his 30 centuries leaves him at number 11 in the world and four above Sobers on 26 and second only to Lara on 34 as West Indians.

Chanderpaul, a pencil-slim left-hander, loves to bat, and because he loves to bat, he has tinkered with his batting stance so many times until he settled into the one which looks like a crab on a stroll and by which he is recognised anywhere around the world.

His weight of runs, however, suggests that any bowler, fast or slow, who figures he is ripe for plucking because of a vastly exaggerated two-eyed stance, is in for a rude awakening.

As the bowler runs in, Chanderpaul moves into gear, and by the time the bowler gets into his delivery stride, Chanderpaul is ready with a defensive bat, a punch into the off-side, a flick to the on-side, a drive to leg, or coming completely around, an exquisite drive through the off-side.

Chanderpaul probably was at his best playing for survival, for himself and for his team, batting long, and playing maiden over after maiden over, session after session.

In England in 2004, he stroked 128 not out 97 not out in the Lord's Test match, in 2005, he stroked 92 and 153 not out against Pakistan at Kensington Oval, and in 2012 at Kensington Oval, he defied Australia for 387 minutes and 244 deliveries to score 103 not out in a losing affair to Australia.

Probably, however, his greatest effort to earn a draw for the West Indies came in a series against Australia in 2008 when he scored 118 and 11, 107 not out and 77 not out, and 79 not out and 50 for a total of 442 in six innings and an average of 147.33, and in a match, against India in Roseau in 2011 when he batted for 501 minutes, faced 343 deliveries, and scored 116 not out, or better still, in 2002 when he batted for 675 minutes and faced 510 deliveries while scoring 132 not out against Indian at the Antigua Recreation Ground.

For me, however, I will never ever forget Chanderpaul's second innings of 97 not out at Lord's and the 18 boundaries with which he thrilled the audience before he was left stranded in his bid to score two hundreds in a Test match. Neither, as long as I live, will I ever forget the pulls, the hooks, and the cuts in his 100 runs off 69 deliveries against the mighty Australia.

Shivnarine Chanderpaul is not an artist, and he is not an exciting batsman, and certainly not day after day. He is, however, in the true sense of the term, a crafty player, a batsman more than many, a man who plays cricket, who goes to the crease simply to score runs and nothing else.

Chanderpaul's bag-full of runs left him with an average of 51.37, behind men like Don Bradman, Graeme Pollock, and Headley, in the company of batsmen like Weekes, Sobers, Walcott, Lara, and Richards, and ahead of one like Kanhai.

That is a true testimony to his greatness, especially of his composure and tenacity.