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'Chanderpaul has been the glue that's kept West Indies going'

Geoff Boycott's take on the India-West Indies series, Shivnarine Chanderpaul, and why perfect farewells are rare in sport (20:59)

Producer: Raunak Kapoor

November 6, 2013

Transcript

Bowl at Boycs

'Chanderpaul has been the glue that's kept West Indies going'

November 6, 2013

Shivnarine Chanderpaul celebrates his double century, Bangladesh v West Indies, 1st Test, Mirpur, 2nd day, November 14, 2012
"Chanderpaul has never caught the imagination of the public" © Associated Press

Excerpts from the discussion below.

Raunak Kapoor: Hello and welcome to Bowl at Boycs, it's the big season for Indian cricket. It is Sachin Tendulkar's final series and all the questions on this edition are to do with the India-West Indies series. Shivnarine Chanderpaul is the subject of the first question, Geoffrey, and it comes from Bas Tambil in the United States.

He asks: Geoffrey, inspite of amassing thousands of runs and performing consistently, Shivnarine Chanderpaul has never been considered an all-time great batsman by many cricketers and experts. Why is that so? How do you rate Chanderpaul as a batsman and what he has contributed to West Indies cricket?

Geoff Boycott: He's had an enormous contribution, Shiv. He's been a lynchpin, a sticker. In the second half of his career, when West Indies haven't been particularly good in their batting, he's the one who has held them together. He's been the glue that's kept them going. Every time they've had a collapse or so, it's usually him and certainly most of the time he scores the runs. And he does this time after time.

Without him, I think the West Indies' results in the last few years would probably have been worse. How do you define greatness? Well, it's in the eye of the beholder. For me, it's about helping to win matches. I'll keep it simple. Winning or helping to keep winning matches is a priority. Next to that is saving a Test match. In a short Test series, that could be vital.

So the first one is winning, second is helping save a Test match, and the third one for me is capturing the imagination of the public. Because in a way we only play for two people. One is ourselves, for the enjoyment of the game, and the other is to give pleasure to the public, and it doesn't always have to be in sixes and fours, it could be by playing a beautiful innings like Dravid.

What a gorgeous player he's been. Winning matches for India or saving them. So it isn't just bashing it out of the ground like one-day cricket. Some people capture the imagination and some people don't, and I think those three points in a simplistic way are important.

Shiv has done so many things, he's been wonderful for them but I don't think he's captured the imagination. I don't think he's won any matches. He's saved some, yes, so one out of three but not three out of three for me. And I love him dearly, I think he's a lovely boy.

RK: Let's go to the next question, Geoffrey, and it comes from Faraz in India. My question to you, Mr Boycott, is that India's bowling is very poor in ODI cricket, you yourself have suggested that. West Indies, on the other hand, are tipped to be the stronger bowling attack. In the India-West Indies series, how do you rate both sets of bowling attacks, and how important a role will the bowlers play in Indian conditions where batsmen usually dominate. Will the team with the better bowling attack make the difference?

GB: Well the question seems to move from ODI cricket to Test cricket, so let's try and cover both. I think a lot depends upon the pitches in India. If they're all just flat pitches and it doesn't spin, then it doesn't make a difference who or what type of bowlers either team plays, because quite frankly when an Indian pitch is flat it has no pace, no bounce, nothing to trouble the bowlers, and it's just easy once you get in.

So let's hope in Calcutta and Mumbai, it spins, it turns and we get a result. They do that, then I think India are favourites. If they don't turn and spin then these Test matches could be quite tedious. When it spins, it's then a question of the quality of the spinner and the quality of the balls.

At the moment, India's spinners are average. When England came, India got outbowled. Swann and Panesar gave the batsmen less time to play and outbowled them when England won.

Then also, you need quality batting if it turns, like Pietersen in Mumbai on a turning pitch.

I think India will beat West Indies. They're difficult at home. You've got to have something special to beat India at home.

 
 
"There will be huge expectation from the public. There always has been when Sachin's played. He's not been batting as fluently, so will it be harder, yes it will be! And I wouldn't like to be in his position"
 

RK: Let's go to the Boycs question of the week and it comes from Anmol Mehta in Switzerland. He asks you, Geoffrey:

As Sachin Tendulkar shall now be playing his final series, I wanted to ask you, Geoffrey, what kind of Tendulkar are we likelier to see? We've seen in the past that milestones tend to wear him down and the pressure he puts on himself, of having to perform in a landmark game, tends to lead to his downfall. As someone who has now announced his retirement but is gearing up for his 200th Test, are we likelier to see him overly cautious or fearless and batting with freedom?

GB: I don't think there's any chance of him batting with freedom. I don't think Sachin can bat fearlessly at the moment. That has gone with his youth. Sadly, I don't say that with any pleasure, but I keep telling you, old Father Time marches on.

There will be huge expectation from the public. There always has been when he's played. And recently, you've got to look at his batting, he's not been batting as fluently, so will it be harder - yes it will be! And I wouldn't like to be in his position.

Would I like to be batting in a 200th Test match with all the weight of India watching and all these celebrations? No. All we can do is cross our fingers and hope he can get to 30-40 runs. That will be the most difficult for me. They will be the tough runs to get. The pressure of expectations, the bowlers trying like hell to get him out, knowing that he's under pressure. It's like batting with a sack of coal on his back. It'll be heavy, hard work.


Sachin Tendulkar with a bust of Don Bradman, Australia v India, CB Series, Sydney, February 26, 2012
Boycott believes perfect farewells for great players rarely work out in sport © Getty Images

Remember, the best batsman, run-getter ever was Bradman. And he announced like Sachin that he was retiring, in 1948 against England. He announced that his last game would be at The Oval, which is usually a flat batting pitch. Australia made 117 - the openers for the first wicket - so when Bradman marched to the crease, it was perfect.

An older ball, the shine was gone, the legspinner Eric Hollies was bowling, and what did he do, he missed a googly and got bowled for nought. Four runs and he averages a hundred and he makes nought. You can plan as much as you want but it rarely works out like that in sport.

Now we'd like to think that we'd play our last Test match at home and get a hundred, win the game and say thank you very much, but that's like a comic book or like dreaming. But then you wake up to reality like Don Bradman.

RK: Thank you very much for all your thoughts, Geoffrey Boycott, don't forget to send in your questions via our feedback form and Geoffrey Boycott will be back in around two weeks' time, from Australia, to answer them. Goodbye.

Posted by alarky on (November 13, 2013, 12:57 GMT)

Geoffery, I too agree that a sportsman's "greatness" is best measured in those days when the pristine assets of youth are no longer fully in his favour; but when he still has to eke out those special and awesome performances, using the very limited half-worn resources that he still possesses. In fact, greatness has NO TRANSITION POINT; it's a non-stop journey all the way! And, that's the time you prove whether or not a sportsman is truly great - when he does it to the end, under trying conditions, with flying colours; like the Bradmans, the Laras, the Chanderpauls , etc. But when one like Tendulakar takes 3 CONSECUTIVE YEARS of continuous trying (ALL of 39 TIMES), and CONTINUOUS FAILING, at still a relatively youthful stage of his career, it's more than enough reason to doubt his place among the "EXCLUSIVE AND ELITE BEST"- not that he isn't GOOD, but is he really in that TOP BRACKET? Please note: "Shiv always captures our IMAGINATION - he is to us just what Sachin is to some of you"!

Posted by   on (November 11, 2013, 1:31 GMT)

Geoffery et al, I want you all to ponder on this Caribbean-man's 'Greatness Philosophy': "The best way to know whether or not a sportsman is truly great, is to judge him in the twilight of his career, analysing and comparing the level of efficiency that he exhibits at this most critical juncture in his game, in relation to his output when he was in his prime - that is, the manner in which he utilizes his natural endowments of strength, knowledge, skills and temperament, in career-long customary and familiar situations, but which now demand more from wearing natural elements created by the onerous demands of time. Those whose efficiency between prime and twilight vary less are the 'truly great ones', and those that vary most were just weak vessels that preyed upon the luxurious resources of youth". The virtue of longevity in sports is durability, to the very end. Who is truly great, Sachin or Shiv? Cont'd>

Posted by IPSY on (November 9, 2013, 6:56 GMT)

Geoffrey, Is it that "1.2 Billion Indians put Tendulkar under pressure", or "Sachin puts them under pressure", when he bats? Based on the voices in the Indian public, I think without any apology, that "it is Sachin who puts the people of India under pressure" - not the other way around. My reason being, that when Sachin goes to bat, he knows that regardless to what happens, he cannot be dropped - the only player in team sport, who has ever been given that unique privilege. Hence, he does not have his place in the team as a problem, as is the case with every other player; hence, he has no excuse whatsoever, not to do well when he goes to bat! But his short comings are usually being blamed on pressure from 1.2 Billion Indians, unfairly so! Now, why even though he and Chanderpaul are in their 40th year, he's averaging 21.55, without a single 100, in 39 CONSECUTIVE INNGS, in the last 3 CONSECUTIVE YEARS, while in 34 inngs Shiv is averaging 73, with six 100s? His short comings - not age!

Posted by IPSY on (November 9, 2013, 6:23 GMT)

Geoffrey, Giovaughn Wilson has already responded to you appropriately; hence I won't prolong my own dismay at your opinion regarding Shiv. He's just as good a cricketer as Tendulkar - as far as REAL effect is concerned! "I don't think he's won any matches", meaning Shiv?! But how bizarre! Tell me a single cliff-hanger Tendulkar has won for India. I mean single handed performances, which is Tendulkar's Achilles heels - Sachin freaks out under pressure at crucial times! Shiv sucks up pressure at crucial times.

Posted by   on (November 9, 2013, 1:12 GMT)

Boycott saying Shiv hasnt won any matches is the dumbest thing ive heard him say. shiv has made crucial runs in test wins against all teams except New Zealand and more than likely if we win there l8r this year he will play a key role. some of his specials include centuries vs India & Pakistan @ Kensington Oval, 118 vs England @ Bourda - his home ground , 104 @ Port Elizabeth to beat South Africa and his century in the record 4th innings chase to beat Australia @ the ARG.

Posted by   on (November 8, 2013, 19:50 GMT)

The day Shivnarine Chanderpaul gets the recognition he richly deserves is not far away. And the day he get's that is when he goes past Brian Lara's record as the highest run scorer for a West Indian.

Lara scored 11,953 runs with 34 centuries and an average of 52.88. Chanderpaul currently has 10,897 runs with 28 centuries and an average of 51.89.

He's good enough to play well past 40 years of age. He may not get to 35 centuries given that he bats so low down the order, but he's certain to go past Lara's run tally.

Posted by cloudmess on (November 8, 2013, 15:09 GMT)

I think Sir Geoff is about right with SRT. Perfect farewells are rare, because you can't ever stage-manage sport. Hindsight now tells us that he should have gone after the 2011 world cup, but at the time SRT was batting beautifully, and reeling off century after century; I recall he was up around the no1 test-batting ranking. He then got bogged down going after his 100th international century, after which age has inevitably started to catch up. But he has been a very special player, for both the quality and quantity of his runs, his longevity as a player and for the impressive way he has always conducted himself. He has given pleasure to so many for so long, and perhaps he was owed a little parting gift - a chance to say goodbye at his home stadium to his millions of fans. We will all hugely miss him after he's gone.

Posted by fayyaz03 on (November 8, 2013, 4:59 GMT)

Geoff! Simply I can say you are genius. I have read or heard Ian Chappel, Harsha Bogley, Sunil Gavaskar, Sanjay Manjrekar, Shane Warne, Ian Botham etc. You are better than all. Firstly you have a great knowledge of Cricket, Secondly you are not a biased, and thirdly you are a very good speaker and hardly ever choose wrong word to describe a player or something related to cricket. Absolutely professional! Love from Pakistan

Posted by Animesh_Roy on (November 7, 2013, 13:18 GMT)

why BCCI partial in case of Dravid, Laxman and Ganguly.....how they are different from sachin.....were they not deserving great farewell like sachin.....?

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