Ageless Chanderpaul makes Surrey toil
Surrey 112 for 2 (Burns 48*) trail Lancashire 470 (Chanderpaul 182, Clark 140, Footitt 5-118) by 358 runs
It was a remarkable achievement, and yet for Chanderpaul it also seemed entirely mundane. He gave a perfunctory raise of his bat, to acknowledge the warm applause at The Oval, briskly punched gloves with his partner and then, without removing his helmet or showing any emotion or discernible joy, was ready to face his next ball. For Chanderpaul, after all, a century is merely a milestone passed on the way to something greater.
There are certainties in life: death, taxes and Chanderpaul, shaping peculiarly towards midwicket, playing inside the line of the ball, nudging to the leg side or gliding the ball precisely through the offside, and, more than anything, steadfastly doing everything at his own pace. At 42, among the oldest players playing first-class cricket today, he remains clinical, cold-blooded and utterly unflappable, even after discomfort in his leg necessitated the use of a runner for the last portion of his innings.
All the Chanderpaul trademarks were here in eight remorseless hours that made it easy to understand why, uniquely, he four times went 1,000 minutes in Test cricket without being dismissed. Yet, as Lancashire's position became more assured, so Chanderpaul slowly dared to show off a repertoire of shots so expansive that he once scored a 69-ball Test century against Australia.
He gallivanted down the wicket to caress Gareth Batty through the leg side for four, and then greeted Scott Borthwick with a pair of straight sixes hit with the nonchalance of a man swatting away an irritating fly. It was a matter of considerable surprise when he eventually drove Batty to cover. By then, though, after amassing 182 from 328 balls and putting Lancashire in an impregnable position in the game, his work was long done.
"I've loved playing cricket and the passion for it is still there," Chanderpaul said. "Always when you come into a new environment you want to show the guys that you're here to contribute. They look up to you, as the senior player, to go out there and put your head down and hold things together."
On a chilly day at The Oval - Chanderpaul was trembling a little after play - he was again ably supported by Jordan Clark, who began the day with a series of booming drives. By the time Clark was dismissed, clearly aggrieved to have been judged to have edged a sweep to slip off Batty for 140, the two had added 243 for the seventh wicket, only five shy of Lancashire's all-time record.
Clark's impact would later be felt with the ball, too: his fourth delivery angled in to trap Mark Stoneman, who had driven with panache, lbw for 40. In the next over, Rory Burns was almost strangled by Luke Procter down the legside; Alex Davies' despairing reaction to shelling the ball suggested a dropped chance.
Those two incidents apart, Surrey seemed relatively unperturbed as evening sunshine marked the end of a marathon 104-over day. While Chanderpaul nursed his leg in the dressing room, Burns and Borthwick proceeding attritionally but without any great alarm.
Yet, in the final over, Kyle Jarvis found Borthwick's outside edge, the ball after a sumptuous back-foot cut for four, imbuing Lancashire with hope about what could yet be possible later in this game. Still, they must overcome not just promised showers later in the match, but also a fundamentally benign wicket, save for some seam movement under cloud cover on the opening morning. Now Taunton has been reinvented as Cyderabad, a spin bowling haven, perhaps only Lord's rivals The Oval as the truest first-class batting surface in the country.
And so, after reducing Lancashire to 122 for 6, Surrey spent the next day toiling as Chanderpaul remained serene, adding 135 runs after his reprieve at second slip on the first afternoon. While Footitt remained hostile deep into the innings, snaring Stephen Parry and Jarvis with two short deliveries in three balls - his fifth five-wicket haul in just 12 first-class games for Surrey - the rest of the attack threatened little. The extra pace of Stuart Meaker, not selected for either of Surrey's opening fixtures, might have been welcome. Then again, Surrey are hardly unique in having being driven to despair by Chanderpaul.
Tim Wigmore is a freelance journalist and author of Second XI: Cricket in its Outposts