England v West Indies, 1st Test, Lord's, 3rd day May 19, 2012

Dismantling new wall England's bigger picture

England are on their way to a series lead but finding a way through Shivnarine Chanderpaul's defences could be the key to further success

In the context of the first Test, the question might seem irrelevant for England are still well placed. But in the context the series, it might seem fair: how do they get Shivnarine Chanderpaul out? For 269 deliveries, and six-and-a-half-hours of match-play so far, the Guyanese has remained unconquered. On the first day of the cricketing summer, there was a raging debate about the selfishness of Chanderpaul and how it was hurting the cause of West Indies. Today, some might say, thank goodness for that.

Whatever Chanderpaul's faults, you cannot blame him for creating a contest. Test cricket clearly would have been poorer without him today, especially after the match rolled into England's hands inadvertently when the visitors lost three wickets in the space of nine deliveries before tea in tragic-comic circumstances.

And once Darren Bravo, who had been run out by Chanderpaul in the first innings, departed having failed to read the slider from the hands of Graeme Swann, a strong percentage of the cricket loyalists decided it was time to make alternate plans for Saturday evening. But Chanderpaul remained faithful and committed to his job and his responsibility as only he could - leaving , clipping, cutting, pushing balls in a relaxed fashion even as the batsman at the other end continued to be constantly under the scanner. In Chanderpaul's case, it seemed, it was the bowler who was actually under constant pressure to get him out.

In both innings, a brief look at the lengths Engalnd bowled indicate a high percentage of the balls were either short-of-a-length or good length. Today Stuart Broad kept coming back in gamely fashion at Chanderpaul but faltered by bowling from wide of the crease from over the wicket, offering the batsman enough width. James Anderson bowled full in the final session but once again at a length where Chanderpaul could easily clip him or punch him on either side. Tim Bresnan went for the aggressive strategy of hurling down some short stuff; though he was successful in hurrying Chanderpaul up and forcing him to fend or duck, he did not displace him out of his comfort zone.

Michael Atherton appropriately anointed Chanderpaul as the new "wall" now that Rahul Dravid has retired. Just like Dravid had the ability to soak up pressure, Chanderpaul, too, forces the opponent to bowl in his areas

The biggest strength, which no bowler has to tell you, is that Chanderpaul has time. Chanderpaul's first four came off the 71st delivery and by then he had spent 110 minutes at the crease. You don't need to swallow all those energy drinks on the shelves in supermarkets to learn about endurance. You just need to watch Chanderpaul, who can spend hours in the middle without breaking sweat.

So far this innings, Chanderpaul has played 95 deliveries compared to the 141 deliveries the top four West Indies batsman faced. Throughout his vigil, only twice was Chanderpaul beaten - once by the ball that Broad got to straighten, bowling from the edge of the crease, on the off stump and in the final half hour by Bresnan, who pitched it short and the world No. 1 batsman tried hooking it unconvincingly.

Some analysts on TV felt that it could be far more effective if England bowled straighter to Chanderpaul as the chances of getting him leg-before were greater. And numbers do not lie. Chanderpaul has been lbw 46 times, but if you look at the recent innings when he has been trapped plumb in front, he has scored three fifties, a hundred and 47. So it's not as if he gets out cheaply when he's out lbw. Also, in England he has been lbw only twice in 18 dismissals.

Former England captain Michael Atherton, speaking on TV, appropriately anointed Chanderpaul as the new "wall" in international cricket now that Rahul Dravid has retired. Just like Dravid had the ability to soak up all pressure and transfer it to the bowler, Chanderpaul, too, forces the opponent to bowl in his areas. And sometimes the obsession to get him out can play in his favour as England have so far found out in this Test.

Shannon Gabriel, the West Indies debutant, described how difficult it is to distract Chanderpaul even in nets. Gabriel, who was joint highest wicket-taker for the visitors with three victims, had dismissed Chanderpaul last year in the Caribbean regional competition playing for Trinidad & Tobago against Guyana. But he admitted Chanderpaul was a hard catch. Chanderpaul scored 80 in that match and lasted for four-and-a-half hours. "He plays the ball late and just clips or pushes through covers. It is impossible to get him out," Gabriel said.

West Indies trail by 35 runs. The task is not even half done and England will aim for a four-day finish. The onus now is more on Marlon Samuels, with whom Chanderpaul has shared a 55-run partnership. Samuels impressed many fans in the West Indies when he decided to play only a part of the IPL to return to play Test cricket. But Sunday could be a big test of Samuels' character because despite his experience, he only has two Test centuries under his belt. On Thursday, he picked up runs at a brisk rate, but vanished to a bold stroke, which had the signature of IPL written on it.

This time Samuels returned to play probably the shot of the day when he stepped out against a flighted off break from Swann and punched it delicately past cover for four. But Samuels needs to complement his senior partner for a few hours to come to revive West Indies' hopes.

Nagraj Gollapudi is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • John on May 21, 2012, 12:55 GMT

    @Patrick Hayward on (May 20 2012, 15:15 PM GMT - TBH - I wouldn't say it's a blindingly obvious choice. Hindsight is an easy thing. I was posting on another thread saying that they could have even rested Swann for Finn and then Swann goes and gets some wkts inc Shiv. Bres (surprisingly even to me before this test) has the best SR and bowling average of the 3 pacemen they had playing today and also before this test (surprisingly) averaged 40 with the bat. So on averages/SR he should be the 1st in and if you were going purely on stats Broad would not have played and how well has he done in this test. I agree re batting depth and feel they could have added a 5th bowler (Finn) rather than called up Bairstow but to be honest they've done ok in past in UK with 4 bowlers even if it's not my preference

  • Dummy4 on May 21, 2012, 1:44 GMT

    He is not 'the new wall'... He has always been THE WEST INDIAN ROCK! An immovable object at the crease!

  • Michael on May 20, 2012, 20:25 GMT

    @ Patrick Hayward: Bresnan's selection seemed like a good idea at the time, especially with his recent test record, although in hindsight it hasn't exactly come off so far. However, if you'd wanted to pick in his stead a bowler who was, in your words, 'taking wickets', your man would not be Finn (good bowler though Finn is), but Graham Onions.

  • Dummy4 on May 20, 2012, 15:15 GMT

    I can't believe Finn is not playing. Swann is a good batsmen and comes in at 10. Too much weight on battling and not enough on bowling. Bresnan should be out and Finn in. He is taking wickets and is England's fastest bowler.

  • RON on May 20, 2012, 13:37 GMT

    Experience, experience, experience. Tried and tested. Shiv and Marlon are the tried and tested and experienced players in the WI team. No team performs well or can win without such players present while bringing along a few young players. This is further evidence of the fallacy, if not idiocy, of leaving such stalwarts as Chris Gayle and Sarwan out.

  • Mathew on May 20, 2012, 12:39 GMT

    Things not going Eng way ATM. Some good discipline from our bowlers without any luck. Shiv and Marlon playing pretty well but one feels they are one wicket away from a collapse. They must have used up their played and misses by now surely.

  • Balaji on May 20, 2012, 12:14 GMT

    Chanderpaul is finally coming out of Lara's shadow. Lara was so dazzling, he blinded the others to the true worth of Chanderpaul. The younger West Indian players should do well to learn everything they can from this guy within the next 2 years, which is what I estimate he will last. Sure they have the talent, but they do not have the sheer bloody mindedness of this man. That is one thing they need to learn from him.

  • Michael on May 20, 2012, 10:48 GMT

    Slightly curious that Atherton should describe Chanderpaul as the "new" Wall. Chanderpaul actually made his test debut in 1994, two years before the debut of the "old" Wall, Rahul Dravid. Atherton should know this very well, since he was the opposing captain on each occasion, and had the frustration of watching his bowlers struggle to put each player under any pressure as they scored a debut fifty. Otherwise the description the Wall is highly appropriate: Chanders often seems to bat in tests in England like he is Comfortably Numb, and leaves England fans wondering Is There Anybody Out There who can dismiss him.

  • Randolph on May 20, 2012, 9:16 GMT

    With Andersen the only bowler worth his pinch of salt no woder they can't get him out.

  • John on May 20, 2012, 9:05 GMT

    The parallels with Dravid's last tour of Eng are so far very much on the mark. Personally (in a selfish way) I'm quite happy if this does become a one sided series but there we go. Shiv is a credit to the sport

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