India v West Indies, 1st Test, Kolkata, 2nd day November 7, 2013

Shillingford shows why he is WI's best Test spinner

N Hunter
Unfortunately for Sunil Narine's supporters, Shane Shillingford, based on his performance today, has put a full stop on the debate: he is West Indies' best spinner in Tests
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Apparently the locals in Trinidad are very upset at the omission of Sunil Narine from the West Indies Test squad. They Trinidadians believe their man Narine should have been given preference over Shane Shillingford, who comes from the lesser-known Windward Islands, to play this Test series. Unfortunately for Narine's supporters, Shillingford, based on his performance today, has put a full stop on the debate: he is West Indies' best spinner in Tests.

In Darren Sammy's mind the Eden Gardens pitch was more favourable for spinners when he said it looked like a fourth-day surface on the eve of the Test. So to see Shillingford bowl the first over on Thursday did not come as a surprise. 

Unlike Narine, Shillingford is an attacking bowler, a classical offspinner and believes more in bowling the stock ball (offbreak) consistently, thereby creating the pressure. He has the variations but he does not abuse them. There were two important things he did this morning consistently: he maintained the line outside the off stump and pitched on a length that kept the batsmen guessing.

Despite being one of the best players of spin, most of the Indian batsmen were coming into this Test series after playing in the shorter formats extensively during the last six months. 

Curiously, a few of them opted to not take the safer option of playing on the back foot on a pitch which remained slow throughout. That approach seemed odd considering Shillingford's pace remained moderate, so there wasn't much of a danger of being trapped plumb. 

The safest option to negate good spin is to get to the pitch of the ball. But Kohli played forward half-heartedly and with hard hands into the hands of short leg; Dhawan, even counting for the low delivery, played away from his body and dragged on. Vijay initially tried to play with hard hands against fuller-length deliveries, and later in an ambitious move, stepped out, failed to read Shillingford's wrong 'un, and was stumped. And if an agile Kieran Powell had leapt forward at short leg to hold a slightly difficult chance from MS Dhoni, Shillingford would have finished with a five-for before lunch.  

Originally from Dominica, Shillingford, who is 30 years old, has played just 10 Tests so far. Yet, in regional cricket back home he is one of the most consistent and among the big names. Playing for his native Windward Islands, Shillingford is used to bowling longer spells on placid surfaces across the Caribbean. That experience has allowed him to settle down into Test cricket faster than Narine, who some feel is not fully ready for the rigours of Test cricket.

Shillingford has had to work twice as hard to get to the top unlike players from more prominent islands like Barbados, Trinidad & Tobago, Jamaica or Guyana. One other reason Shillingford would have been more hungry to prove himself is the fact that he does not feature in the national ODI and Twenty20 squads. 

Although he has already taken four five-fors in his short Test career, Shillingford would agree India would be the toughest test of his career. By the end of his first full day at work, he would have learned quiet a few lessons. 

The euphoria of the morning became distant for West Indies as Rohit Sharma lead India's fightback in the final two sessions. As Rohit grew in confidence he started passing the pressure back to the bowlers. So the same lengths that batsmen in the morning had played unconvincingly against Shillingford, Rohit started sweeping against or defending confidently by coming to the pitch of the deliveries. If nothing, he would just play on the back foot, forcing Shillingford to think of better ideas, which Shillingford claimed he had last evening. 

"After we got out and I bowled on the first day I assessed the wicket pretty quick in terms of how I would come and bowl next day," Shillingford said. "Yesterday and earlier today it was jumping a bit more and as the day progressed it got slower. So it is a wicket you have to do a lot of thinking on how to bowl. With the newer ball the leather is smooth and as the ball wears down it becomes easier to grip. So with the newer ball I told myself not to try too much with it."

To counter the low nature of the pitch Shillingford said he was forced to cut down on aggression. "After lunch it really slowed down a lot and that is when I thought I had to be lot more tighter as opposed to more attacking. The batsmen saw that and were more patient and were waiting for the bad ball," he said.

Unfortunately for Shillingford, Veerasammy Permaul, the left-arm spinner, remained innocuous throughout the day. Even though he was economical, the lack of variations or even pace made Permaul look like a makeshift spinner. The waywardness of Tino Best only deepened West Indies' agony as India regained control of the match which they had lost to Shillingford in the morning.

Before coming to India, Shillingford attended the spin clinic conducted by Saqlain Mushtaq, the former Pakistan offspinner, in Barbados.  Although Saqlain taught him the nuances of controlling the doosra, with which he beat two batsmen today, the most important thing Shillingford took away from that camp was to get stronger mentally.

"Working with Saqi made me mentally tougher in terms of self belief and things like that, which he really emphasised on," Shillingford said. If he understood the message, patience will be the key element for Shillingford to build on his success.

Shane Shillingford on Sachin Tendulkar's wicket: 'My job is to appeal'

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • ferngully on November 8, 2013, 9:42 GMT

    have to wonder why roach and rampaul aren't the 2 seamers...consistency breeds confidence and its hard to get consistent being left out of a squad that hasn't seen 5 day cricket in months

  • Optic on November 8, 2013, 4:26 GMT

    He bowled well yesterday but was probably bowled too long in the end. Hate his action, it's all kinds of wrong, especially when he bowls the doorsa but even his offies have a big straightening of the arm. To me he looks just the same as when he had to get his action sorted a few years ago. Can't believe Rampaul isn't playing, I presumed he was unfit. The 2 seamers picked are all over the place and can't bowl a disciplined line if their lives depended on it. Sammy's had all kind of sweepers for their poor deliveries, if that's the case they're simply not test class. That was the main reason why India batted themselves out of trouble, because there was no pressure being built from the other end from Shillingford.

  • Unmesh_cric on November 8, 2013, 2:49 GMT

    My million dollar question: I agree with selecting Shillingford ahead of Naraine, but why not select Naraine ahead of Permaul?

  • SamRoy on November 8, 2013, 2:30 GMT

    No Nikita Miller is so wrong!! Miller for me is the best spinner in WI. Him and Shillingford would have formed a lethal combination. Narine still needs to work on his patience (a bit like Ashwin). Miller is so much better than Permaul that it is no joke but bad selection politics which is hampering WI cricket. For starters Miller averages 15 in first class cricket. No spinner since 1930s has averaged so low in first class (of the top 8 test playing countries). And he outbowled Permaul in every game vs India A one month back.

  • on November 8, 2013, 0:26 GMT

    West Indies selection continues to baffle. Why pick debutant Cottrell and Best! Roach must be one of the two pace bowlers because he has the best record for fast bowlers over the past 6 tests!!! And he is the experienced one! Secondly, how could coach Gibson justify leaving out Narine from the tour to INDIA??? Narine knows Indian pitches better than any Windies bowler.The two best spin bowlers we have are Narine AND Shillingford. period!! You have to play your best players. Selection a mystery again.

  • SlamMasterJ on November 7, 2013, 23:41 GMT

    Shillingford is our best Test spin bowler so far, Narine our ODI and T20 spinner. What I'm wondering is why Rampaul wasn't chosen over "raw pace and little else" Best...

  • Riddymon on November 7, 2013, 23:36 GMT

    Why would you want to bowl Chris Gayle over Sammy. Chris Gayle is part time spin at best. Yeah he gets a few wickets here and there but Sammy is a more accomplished bowler. He should have maybe let Samuels turn his arm over for a bit. As for Narine...he's at his best when the batmen attack him which is why he's not a good choice for Tests where they only have to see him off

  • BRUTALANALYST on November 7, 2013, 22:02 GMT

    Replace Permaul and Sammy with Roach and Narine and you have a deadly attack .

  • CodandChips on November 7, 2013, 21:17 GMT

    On WI seamers, they miss Roach. Holder looked a good prospect so I wonder what his f/c record is like. Cottrell and Best are poor bowlers. Darren Sammy is unfortunately not a test cricketer. I admire him as the saviour of WI cricket, as a test much better captain than the clueless Dwayne Bravo, and a vital part of the ODI side becuase of their tactic to play only 3 (supremely talented) front line bowlers and the fact that they only play 2 batsmen in Darren Bravo and Marlon Samuels along with the mercenaries.

  • CodandChips on November 7, 2013, 20:35 GMT

    @Nampally what? "Narine will get Test team in a ny nation". Have you heard of Saeed Ajmal or Graeme Swann? Narine doesn't belong on the same planet as them. Also he isn't as good as Abdur Rehman, Nathan Lyon, Imran Tahir or Rangana Herath. Furthermore Narine is unproven on non spinning pitches; he was abysmal last year in England.

  • ferngully on November 8, 2013, 9:42 GMT

    have to wonder why roach and rampaul aren't the 2 seamers...consistency breeds confidence and its hard to get consistent being left out of a squad that hasn't seen 5 day cricket in months

  • Optic on November 8, 2013, 4:26 GMT

    He bowled well yesterday but was probably bowled too long in the end. Hate his action, it's all kinds of wrong, especially when he bowls the doorsa but even his offies have a big straightening of the arm. To me he looks just the same as when he had to get his action sorted a few years ago. Can't believe Rampaul isn't playing, I presumed he was unfit. The 2 seamers picked are all over the place and can't bowl a disciplined line if their lives depended on it. Sammy's had all kind of sweepers for their poor deliveries, if that's the case they're simply not test class. That was the main reason why India batted themselves out of trouble, because there was no pressure being built from the other end from Shillingford.

  • Unmesh_cric on November 8, 2013, 2:49 GMT

    My million dollar question: I agree with selecting Shillingford ahead of Naraine, but why not select Naraine ahead of Permaul?

  • SamRoy on November 8, 2013, 2:30 GMT

    No Nikita Miller is so wrong!! Miller for me is the best spinner in WI. Him and Shillingford would have formed a lethal combination. Narine still needs to work on his patience (a bit like Ashwin). Miller is so much better than Permaul that it is no joke but bad selection politics which is hampering WI cricket. For starters Miller averages 15 in first class cricket. No spinner since 1930s has averaged so low in first class (of the top 8 test playing countries). And he outbowled Permaul in every game vs India A one month back.

  • on November 8, 2013, 0:26 GMT

    West Indies selection continues to baffle. Why pick debutant Cottrell and Best! Roach must be one of the two pace bowlers because he has the best record for fast bowlers over the past 6 tests!!! And he is the experienced one! Secondly, how could coach Gibson justify leaving out Narine from the tour to INDIA??? Narine knows Indian pitches better than any Windies bowler.The two best spin bowlers we have are Narine AND Shillingford. period!! You have to play your best players. Selection a mystery again.

  • SlamMasterJ on November 7, 2013, 23:41 GMT

    Shillingford is our best Test spin bowler so far, Narine our ODI and T20 spinner. What I'm wondering is why Rampaul wasn't chosen over "raw pace and little else" Best...

  • Riddymon on November 7, 2013, 23:36 GMT

    Why would you want to bowl Chris Gayle over Sammy. Chris Gayle is part time spin at best. Yeah he gets a few wickets here and there but Sammy is a more accomplished bowler. He should have maybe let Samuels turn his arm over for a bit. As for Narine...he's at his best when the batmen attack him which is why he's not a good choice for Tests where they only have to see him off

  • BRUTALANALYST on November 7, 2013, 22:02 GMT

    Replace Permaul and Sammy with Roach and Narine and you have a deadly attack .

  • CodandChips on November 7, 2013, 21:17 GMT

    On WI seamers, they miss Roach. Holder looked a good prospect so I wonder what his f/c record is like. Cottrell and Best are poor bowlers. Darren Sammy is unfortunately not a test cricketer. I admire him as the saviour of WI cricket, as a test much better captain than the clueless Dwayne Bravo, and a vital part of the ODI side becuase of their tactic to play only 3 (supremely talented) front line bowlers and the fact that they only play 2 batsmen in Darren Bravo and Marlon Samuels along with the mercenaries.

  • CodandChips on November 7, 2013, 20:35 GMT

    @Nampally what? "Narine will get Test team in a ny nation". Have you heard of Saeed Ajmal or Graeme Swann? Narine doesn't belong on the same planet as them. Also he isn't as good as Abdur Rehman, Nathan Lyon, Imran Tahir or Rangana Herath. Furthermore Narine is unproven on non spinning pitches; he was abysmal last year in England.

  • on November 7, 2013, 20:21 GMT

    It is so mystifying that management don't find it necessary to bowl either Gayle or Samuels who have proved over time that they can break partnerships. Is there a fear that they may be successful? Sammy is just a mediocre bowler at best. West Indies cricket is in a rut and will remain there under present directorship of the on field generals.Oh well I forgot that leadership we won our last six test matches and reach the goals of the manager of making 5th place while stuck in the mud spinning our wheels while some one else slid behind

  • on November 7, 2013, 20:14 GMT

    I dont know why everyone is so concerned about Narine on the team.WHy dont you ask him if it is better for him. He was signed for 20/20 and will be paid a lot more money than WI can afford to pay him. and yes Sunil and SHilling ford would have been a deadly combination..Ask Sammy if he knows how to use these bowlers.Samuels and Gayle never bowled while Sammy took the ball himself..what for?

  • Frayninho21 on November 7, 2013, 19:46 GMT

    Who would have thought that in a test match between India and West Indies the best fast bowlers would be Indian and the best spinner a West Indian ?! Permaul being selected ahead of Narine is barmy; this pitch is Narine's 'home' surface and he would certainly have bowled better than Permaul has. Also, I cannot fathom the logic of not picking Ravi Rampaul for this series. Yes, he is not at top fitness but Best and Cottrell have only bowled a combined 29 overs out of the 102 sent down so far - surely Rampaul's fitness would have allowed for fifteen overs bowling in a day and a bit ? A four pronged attack of Rampaul, Roach, Narine and Shillingford would trouble any line-up let alone India on a spinning pitch. Sammy is a wholehearted trier but neither his batting or bowling is good enough in tests. Pick your best XI and then a captain don't choose a captain and then shoehorn a team around him.

  • Nampally on November 7, 2013, 19:36 GMT

    I still think that Narine is the best spinner in the WI team. why is he not in the side is a mystery. He will get into Test team for any Nation easily. When Shillingford was bowling so well on Day2, he really needed a good bowler from the other end to provide a effective foil. Unfortunately that did not happen. India got from 83 for 5 to close the day 354 for 6- India has a lead of 120 runs. If India can stretch their lead to 250 on Day 3, WI batsmen will find it hard to counter the Indian spinners Ashwin & Ojha. In addition Dhawan can be a useful LH orthodox too while Tendulkar can chip in with his leg spinners. WI will find it hard to cope with the Indian spinners on a turning wkt. That will loom larger on Day 4.

  • on November 7, 2013, 18:35 GMT

    Why Sammy doesn't bowl Samuels or Gayle we can only wonder. Shillingford would have to be amongst the best in the world with his figures in his first few matches. Not quite Philander good but up there! (Stats gurus?)

  • on November 7, 2013, 18:08 GMT

    I am from Trinidad so i guess i can classify as a "local". We "locals" are unhappy VEERASAMMY PERMAUL has been selected and not Sunil Narine. We have no problem with Shillingford who has earned his spot on the Test team.

  • shillingsworth on November 7, 2013, 18:06 GMT

    An article which completely misses the point. As, WI are playing two spinners, it's irrelevant whether Shillingford is better than Narine. The question surely is whether Permaul is better than Narine. On this evidence, the answer is a resounding no.

  • on November 7, 2013, 17:52 GMT

    Shillingford got Sachin out today?? He isn't exactly Lance Gibbs is he?

  • Rohit... on November 7, 2013, 17:05 GMT

    I liked this Shillingford guy more than narine... May be since Kolkata pitch detoriated more in Day 2 to support his bounce & narine could have bowled even better in such situations, But at the moment he is looking far better than narine.

  • on November 7, 2013, 16:08 GMT

    Shilling and Saqi. I like those names.

  • on November 7, 2013, 16:03 GMT

    Narine and Shillingford would have been are pore potent combination

  • No featured comments at the moment.

  • on November 7, 2013, 16:03 GMT

    Narine and Shillingford would have been are pore potent combination

  • on November 7, 2013, 16:08 GMT

    Shilling and Saqi. I like those names.

  • Rohit... on November 7, 2013, 17:05 GMT

    I liked this Shillingford guy more than narine... May be since Kolkata pitch detoriated more in Day 2 to support his bounce & narine could have bowled even better in such situations, But at the moment he is looking far better than narine.

  • on November 7, 2013, 17:52 GMT

    Shillingford got Sachin out today?? He isn't exactly Lance Gibbs is he?

  • shillingsworth on November 7, 2013, 18:06 GMT

    An article which completely misses the point. As, WI are playing two spinners, it's irrelevant whether Shillingford is better than Narine. The question surely is whether Permaul is better than Narine. On this evidence, the answer is a resounding no.

  • on November 7, 2013, 18:08 GMT

    I am from Trinidad so i guess i can classify as a "local". We "locals" are unhappy VEERASAMMY PERMAUL has been selected and not Sunil Narine. We have no problem with Shillingford who has earned his spot on the Test team.

  • on November 7, 2013, 18:35 GMT

    Why Sammy doesn't bowl Samuels or Gayle we can only wonder. Shillingford would have to be amongst the best in the world with his figures in his first few matches. Not quite Philander good but up there! (Stats gurus?)

  • Nampally on November 7, 2013, 19:36 GMT

    I still think that Narine is the best spinner in the WI team. why is he not in the side is a mystery. He will get into Test team for any Nation easily. When Shillingford was bowling so well on Day2, he really needed a good bowler from the other end to provide a effective foil. Unfortunately that did not happen. India got from 83 for 5 to close the day 354 for 6- India has a lead of 120 runs. If India can stretch their lead to 250 on Day 3, WI batsmen will find it hard to counter the Indian spinners Ashwin & Ojha. In addition Dhawan can be a useful LH orthodox too while Tendulkar can chip in with his leg spinners. WI will find it hard to cope with the Indian spinners on a turning wkt. That will loom larger on Day 4.

  • Frayninho21 on November 7, 2013, 19:46 GMT

    Who would have thought that in a test match between India and West Indies the best fast bowlers would be Indian and the best spinner a West Indian ?! Permaul being selected ahead of Narine is barmy; this pitch is Narine's 'home' surface and he would certainly have bowled better than Permaul has. Also, I cannot fathom the logic of not picking Ravi Rampaul for this series. Yes, he is not at top fitness but Best and Cottrell have only bowled a combined 29 overs out of the 102 sent down so far - surely Rampaul's fitness would have allowed for fifteen overs bowling in a day and a bit ? A four pronged attack of Rampaul, Roach, Narine and Shillingford would trouble any line-up let alone India on a spinning pitch. Sammy is a wholehearted trier but neither his batting or bowling is good enough in tests. Pick your best XI and then a captain don't choose a captain and then shoehorn a team around him.

  • on November 7, 2013, 20:14 GMT

    I dont know why everyone is so concerned about Narine on the team.WHy dont you ask him if it is better for him. He was signed for 20/20 and will be paid a lot more money than WI can afford to pay him. and yes Sunil and SHilling ford would have been a deadly combination..Ask Sammy if he knows how to use these bowlers.Samuels and Gayle never bowled while Sammy took the ball himself..what for?