England v West Indies, 4th Test, Chester-le-Street, 3rd day June 17, 2007

Chanderpaul keeps Strauss waiting



Shivnarine Chanderpaul extended his unbeaten time at the crease to more than 13 hours © Getty Images
Two left-handers have been through a contrasting series. Andrew Strauss found himself continuing a slump which started in Australia and threatened to stall his career, while Shivnarine Chanderpaul seems to have been a permanent fixture at the crease throughout, despite missing one Test. For him the pattern continued at Chester-le-Street, but for Strauss there was a change of fortune and in the nick of time.

However, for 98 minutes he had to watch Chanderpaul and last-man Corey Collymore defy England's bowlers and prolong West Indies' innings throughout the afternoon session. Chanderpaul said it had been a strong effort for West Indies to reach 287. "It's difficult if you get the balls in the right areas as you could see from the start of our innings, we lost a few wickets early, and we batted well to get out of that situation."

He extended his time at the crease in the series to 19-and-half hours and it's more than 13 hours since he has been dismissed; the first innings at Old Trafford. The support from Collymore was the aspect Chanderpaul previously lacked and he farmed the strike smartly, while Collymore reached double figures in a Test for the first time since Old Trafford in 2004. "We spoke to each other about what we could see to help us through the innings," said Chanderpaul.

There was no little courage, too, from Chanderpaul as he took a painful blow on his left arm from Steve Harmison, on 98, to add to his already dodgy knees. "It's pretty sore, but should be okay tomorrow." The arm worked fine when he cracked a wide ball for four to bring up his century and, in a statistical quirk, he was unbeaten having faced the same number of balls as he had in his second-innings epic last week, 257. This time, though, he walked off with his team in the match rather than out of the series.

It wasn't the easiest build-up for Strauss as he prepared for one of his most important Test innings, but after a nervous start was looking more like his old self. From being the main batting concern for England he is now carrying their hopes into the fourth day after a late clatter of wickets brought on by some careless batting. "It would have done him the world of good," said Ryan Sidebottom. "If he can stay in, the pitch is a bit two-paced and swinging around, hopefully with a big partnership tomorrow we can play round him like West Indies did with Chanderpaul."

That the final West Indies wicket eventually fell close enough to tea for the interval to be taken was a blessing for Strauss. He had 20 minutes to collect his thoughts then was set on his way courtesy of some dross from West Indies' new-ball attack, the first 20 runs coming in boundaries.

His fifty was just his second in 16 innings since the start of the Ashes series, a run of low scores which have included a few rough decisions but, today, luck was on his side. A couple of early drives flew past the close fielders and he nearly dragged on against Dwayne Bravo. But on such moments do fortunes change. Now he needs to follow Chanderpaul's lead and convert into three figures.

Andrew McGlashan is a staff writer on Cricinfo