April 22, 2012

Chanderpaul's style does his substance no favours

Like Lara, most of his runs and hundreds have come in defeat; unlike him, the manner in which Chanderpaul makes them gets him overlooked

It must seem like a funny old game when you can bat and bowl your side to victory in one match and be left out the next. Having turned strife at Kensington Oval into triumph for Australia with his rearguard 68 not out and three second-innings wickets backing up Ben Hilfenhaus, Ryan Harris had to sit in the Brian Lara Pavilion for all of the second Test, in Port-of-Spain, watching Kemar Roach take over.

Roach, whose promising 2010 was followed by a lean 2011, when his form allowed him just four Tests and seven wickets, took his career and his place in the ICC rankings up several notches with his ten wickets at the Queen's Park Oval.

The West Indies selectors will not countenance leaving him out when they sit down to pick their team for the finale in Dominica. As for Australia, the return home of Peter Siddle and James Pattinson should guarantee that Harris gets to finish what he started.

Finishing what he started will also be top of Shivnarine Chanderpaul's to-do list.

It has not so far been a series for enhancing reputations or making too many new ones; and short series are not kind to slow starters. But Chanderpaul has already made himself at home in this one.

A century first time out in Barbados, and a near-hundred but for Nathan Lyon's intervention and umpire Ian Gould's belated raised finger for lbw in Trinidad: Chanderpaul has worked his way to the head of the class of top scorers as he prepares to take up duty on the Windsor Park strip.

But for him, it must all seem like déjà vu. Four years ago, he was playing under Chris Gayle when the final game of the series got to Barbados with Australia one-up after victory in a hot contest at Sabina Park and a draw in Antigua.

Chanderpaul went into that Bridgetown game after coming through Brett Lee's battering at Sabina to make 118, and setting out his stall twice at North Sound for 107 not out and 77 not out.

At Kensington, Australia again found him tougher than a mule to move. It took them over seven hours to get him out once. But that second-innings victory for Stuart Clark against Chanderpaul when he had reached an even 50, did lead to defeat for West Indies. The 1-0 lead Michael Clarke's team holds ahead of this third and deciding match mirrors the situation in 2008.

Chanderpaul places such a high value on his wicket that bowlers can't always meet the asking price. The trouble for West Indies over his 18 years of service, and right now, is the supporting cast. Their lack of care has devalued his hard work. Their shoddiness has taken the edge off the tiger's bite. How many wins his runs would have been worth, how many series saved, with a little more help?

In Port-of-Spain, Narsingh Deonarine, with the bearing of Chanderpaul from afar, stayed with his countryman for nigh on two hours as West Indies tried to overhaul 311. The pair even set a new West Indies fifth-wicket record against Australia for the venue. But having got to a half-century, Deonarine gave up the vigil. Mentally disengaged, he strayed from his crease in vain pursuit of Lyon, only to be stumped by Matthew Wade. That was the start of the collapse, the beginning of the end of the chase.

They speak of Chanderpaul with admiration, but the young West Indies players do not seem to study his craft, his way of letting the bowling come to him, of making the opposition do the most work before he gets going. His way is perhaps not "bling" enough.

When the mood takes him, however, he can more than play the West Indian way. The Aussies have seen his other side, most memorably in 2003, when he cut loose to all corners of Bourda for 100 off 69 balls. On his first tour Down Under, in 1996, a frail-looking Chanderpaul first showed that other side, carving out a breathtaking 71 in Sydney against Shane Warne before he fell on his blade. Defeat, though, followed in both cases.

Like those of Brian Lara, Chanderpaul's many runs have been swallowed up in defeat. And his understated method of choice makes his centuries somehow seem lesser things.

He may never beat cover like the Prince of Port-of-Spain, or move in the same rhythm to spin like a Ponting or a Michael Clarke. But perhaps no team present needs a player as much as this West Indies team needs Shiv Chanderpaul.

With him, they always know what they will get.

Garth Wattley is a writer with the Trinidad Express

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Dummy4 on April 26, 2012, 21:28 GMT

    Chanderpaul is such a reliable player. He has now amassed 10000 plus test runs in test cricket. Why is he being left out of the west indies one day side? He may be defensive in his approach but he has shown time and time again that he has the capability of scoring runs quickly when he wishes. Certainly, the current West Indies one dayer side which has a penetrable top order is in need of a player of his class and consistently. He should be given an apology for being left out of the side and an opportunity to make 10000 runs in the one day form of the game as well

  • Alex on April 24, 2012, 6:33 GMT

    @Zak1234: how can you say chanderpaul's technique is ugly, have you ever seen dhoni bat, he just has no technique just brute force whereas chanderpaul just starts awkward, try paying attention to detail

  • Cricinfouser on April 23, 2012, 17:40 GMT

    I agree Chanders is an awesome cricketer...his amazing quality is the utmost humility and selflessness - something maybe his East Indian coutnerparts could pick-up on instead of focusing on picking up awards and endorsements. Cant imagine Chanders hosting a 'press conference' after a certain number of centuries thereby compelling journalists to praise him, or declaring an innings out of pure personal animosity and jealousy when his compatriot and colleague is nearing a double century. Amazing individual with a flawless character - I salute you Chanders!

  • Mohamed on April 23, 2012, 16:59 GMT

    I have said it before - Gibson should apologise to Chanders. He is the most underrated player for the last 2 decades. Shiv plays the hand he is dealt. Most of the time when he comes in to bat, the WI are 3 down with just a few runs on the board, so he has to go on the defensive mode for the get go. I just finished watching Fire in Babylon for the 10th time and one thing several players mentioned that stuck and that is, prior to the great WI team of the late 70's, 80's & early 90's, West Indian players were regarded as "calypso cricketers". They will put on a good show, but usually lose the series. Yet, today we have many who clamor for the calypso carefree style (big hits and theatrics) and a true grit professional like Shiv is berated for his style. No one knows how much higher Shiv average would have been, had he had a better supporting cast. As a fellow Guyanese, I am so proud of Shiv and he has become the most beloved Cricketer in all of Guyana.

  • Michael on April 23, 2012, 16:33 GMT

    @Zak1234: some people may agree with part of what you said, notably the writer of Chanders' cricinfo profile which attributes to him 'the crabbiest' batting technique in world cricket. However, when you described Chanderpaul as 'a tiger at home and a lamb away', I really don't think you can have considered his record against England, against whom he averages 40 in the West Indies, but 64.66 in England. A player who has been playing international cricket for 18 years, during most of which his team has been struggling, and who is his team's most capped cricketer ever, deserves respect for his longevity alone, let alone 9,900 test runs (more than any England or Pakistan player ever and any West Indies player except Lara) and 25 test centuries (more than any England player or any West Indies player except Lara and Sobers). Most cricket watchers and posters to this conversation clearly agree.

  • Dummy4 on April 23, 2012, 14:05 GMT

    No one talks about Chaderpaul a quiet but very effective bloke no bowler likes to bowl at him sure.

  • Simon on April 23, 2012, 12:56 GMT

    Chanders is one of the most loved Windies cricketers here in Aus. Everytime we play the Windies, you start seeing people trying to imitate him. But there is no imitating him. He is a master, a genius and he continues to score runs against some of the best bowlers in the world. Long live Chanderpaul!

  • K on April 23, 2012, 12:53 GMT

    Shiv Chander's 100+ in the first innings of the first test helped to make a good first innings total; he made 12 in the second innings and others around him failed him and the WI team and cost them the match, due to the lack of support. Same in the Second test. He has no support from the rest of the batters; and that is costing WI the matches.

  • rob on April 23, 2012, 12:31 GMT

    All I can say is I wish we had someone like Chanderpaul in the current Aussie lineup. Every team needs a barnacle to stick around and provide something for the others to build on. Shiv is one of the best at that, even in Australia. .. I see that he's not far short of 10K runs. Hope he gets them .. in the next series. lol ..

  • Samuel on April 23, 2012, 11:21 GMT

    dsig3 - as an England fan, I agree completely. Now Sarwan and Gayle seem out of the picture Chanderpaul is the Windies' one gun player. Even if Sarwan and Gayle were still in the team, Shiv is probably the one I'd still worry about most. Those two give the bowler a chance - not so Chanderpaul. It doesn't seem to matter how good the attack or what the pitch is doing, he just goes about things calmly and intelligently, knowing when to attack, when to defend and always sticking to the crease like a limpet. A superb player, and one of my favourites - he might not be the most elegant or brutal, but he's a craftsman, and he shows that you don't always have to go by the book to be hugely successful. You really worry for the Windies' batting over here in England next month, but you know that Chanderpaul will be at one end, infuriating the hell out of the bowlers!

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