Australia v West Indies, 3rd Test, Perth, 4th day December 19, 2009

The Chanderpaul understudies

West Indies haven't had Shivnarine Chanderpaul as their middle-order rock at the WACA, but they've had two very good imitations in Narsingh Deonarine and Brendan Nash

West Indies haven't had Shivnarine Chanderpaul as their middle-order rock at the WACA, but they've had two very good imitations. Cricket in the Caribbean isn't flush with cash but Narsingh Deonarine and Brendan Nash have put an enormous price on their wickets, and the team could enjoy healthy dividends if their diligence continues.

The long, hot Perth day eventually got to both batsmen and they departed in the final session. By then they had given their side hope in a chase of 359, although late wickets put Australia back on top. Patience and discipline are vital qualities in Test cricket and it's no surprise that West Indies, who barring Chanderpaul haven't always had those traits in the past decade, have won only three of their past 41 Tests.

Nor is it remarkable that in a region that has produced dashing superstars like Viv Richards and Brian Lara (though they were brilliantly adaptable and could defend for their lives), a younger generation preferred to entertain. Stroke-players such as Xavier Marshall, Marlon Samuels and Dwayne Smith have rolled through the Test line-up, providing much sparkle but little substance.

Now there are batsmen coming through who are aiming to emulate Chanderpaul, and the team is better for it. Much like Chanderpaul, Deonarine and Nash are small-statured left-handers whose first priority is to not get out and if runs come along the way, then that's good. It was precisely the attitude the team needed when they came together on the fourth day at the WACA.

At that stage the visitors required 291 to win, with seven wickets in hand and time was of no consequence. It was so irrelevant to Nash that for 70 minutes he didn't score a run, remaining on 48. It didn't bother him. He once batted through a whole session for Queensland and scored two runs.

Deonarine played in a similar fashion, although he was more willing to attack and memorably brought up his half-century with a six straight back over the head of the bowler Nathan Hauritz. He would have gone through the whole series without playing a Test but for the finger injury that Chanderpaul suffered in Adelaide.

He slotted into Chanderpaul's No. 4 position with ease, batting 100 minutes for 18 in the first innings as he aimed to shore up one end, before he lasted 202 minutes for 82 in the second innings. The similarity was even more striking as Deonarine wore anti-glare strips under his eyes - the same patches that Chanderpaul has made a trademark.

Deonarine was ten years old when his Guyanese countryman Chanderpaul made his Test debut in Georgetown. Eleven years later, Deonarine made his Test debut under Chanderpaul's captaincy. With his performances, he has given himself a chance of keeping his Test spot even when his idol returns.

"Since I was a little boy growing up I was always looking at Shiv and always he was my role model," Deonarine said. "The way he's going about doing his business, a very determined guy. I tried to model myself in his way, going out there, be determined, spend time at the crease. He taught me a lot and advised me a lot, so in the end it's worked out."

Today, neither Nash nor Deonarine could make it through to stumps but their 128-run stand, forged over more than three hours in 35-degree heat, gave their team a chance. Deonarine missed a straight ball and saw it crash off his pads and onto the stumps; Nash's tired brain told him to leave the new ball that swung in to knock his off stump.

But it's worth remembering that early in his career, Chanderpaul was often criticised for getting tired and not batting long enough. Things can change.

Last year in the Caribbean, he was at the crease for nearly 26 hours in the three Tests against Australia, including more than 18 hours straight without being dismissed. If Deonarine and Nash can perfect their Chanderpaul imitations and become long-term investments, breaking through the West Indies' middle order will truly become a test.

Brydon Coverdale is a staff writer at Cricinfo