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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
Bowl at Boycs
'Chanderpaul has been the glue that's kept West Indies going'November 6, 2013
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.
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.
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