Chanderpaul adds to Surrey's problems
Derbyshire 232 for 2 (Chanderpaul 112*, Madsen 92*) v Surrey
You could not fault Shivnarine Chanderpaul's timing, in any respect. On a stage set for Ricky Ponting to ride to Surrey's rescue on his second debut in county cricket, it was the Guyanese who hogged the spotlight, compiling his 10th century in the Championship to encourage struggling Derbyshire to believe that even they might add to Surrey's woes.
Chanderpaul, of an age with Ponting and still performing at the highest level, has played for four counties and now has made hundreds for all of them. His brief with Derbyshire is to make himself difficult to get out, to bring stability in the batting while others less experienced find their feet. It is a skill in which he has few peers. But no batsman makes 10,000 runs in Test cricket simply by digging in. In the right mood, he scores with deceptive speed, cannily finding gaps in the field, rolling the ball into space with shots played with soft hands to facilitate comfortable singles, sending others skimming to the boundary with effortless timing.
This was one of those days and to Ponting it must have seemed all too familiar. Chanderpaul has made 1649 Test runs against Australia, a sizeable proportion witnessed at first hand by Ponting, including four of five hundreds. One of those, on his home ground in Georgetown - with Ponting again in the on-field audience - came off only 69 balls. This one was a little slower but at 116 balls was brisk enough to turn an abbreviated day - only 55 overs were possible after a start delayed by a soggy outfield - into one of Derbyshire's better ones.
Chanderpaul's partnership with his captain, Wayne Madsen, who was closing on a century of his own, had added 203 by the close, a record for any Derbyshire wicket against Surrey, who again look a side short on confidence. After losing Graeme Smith to injury, they need Ponting to fire, and quickly, if they are to pull away from the bottom of the table.
They are not short of ability, but lack consistency. While they may have lost their last Championship match, against Nottinghamshire, their bowlers performed well, albeit in helpful conditions, and Chris Adams, their frustrated team director, saw light at the end of the tunnel. This time they were consistent mainly in that they all leaked runs.
Jade Dernbach was missing, called away by England to cover for Tim Bresnan in the one-dayers against New Zealand should Bresnan's expectant wife go into labour. But Chris Tremlett came in, a like for like replacement in terms of quality, and when his fifth ball hit the top of Chesney Hughes' off-stump, with the batsman neither forward nor back, there may have been a doubt in Madsen's mind over whether opting to bat first after winning his first toss of the Championship season was really the right move.
Billy Godleman made early progress as Tim Linley sought to find his rhythm but then edged to third slip pushing at a ball that left him late, at which point Derbyshire were 29 for 2.
But Chanderpaul was quickly into his stride, getting off the mark by hitting Linley down the ground for four and repeating the stroke to the next delivery, with the same result. It was an immediate indication that he felt comfortable and confident and rarely thereafter did he miss an opportunity for runs.
Momentarily, after passing 50, he got a little bogged down, but when Tremlett became untidy he scored 26 in only a couple of overs and his 67th first-class hundred suddenly loomed closer. His 13th four took him there, driven off the back foot wide of the fielder at cover.
Apart from a chance of a run-out, Chanderpaul offered little encouragement to Surrey, but then again neither did Madsen, who has batted well enough to deserve a first hundred of the season. It may be some time yet before Ponting has the chance to deliver a response.