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Shiv the survivor

Shivnarine Chanderpaul is among the last of the cricketers around from the 1990s. But then longevity has always been the essence of his game

Scott Oliver

November 4, 2013

Comments: 53 | Text size: A | A

Shivnarine Chanderpaul stands at the ready during training, Kolkata, October 30, 2013
"Thinking about the game - which goes for two-hour sessions, maybe two and a half - I prepare that way in the nets" © WICB
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Players/Officials: Shivnarine Chanderpaul
Series/Tournaments: West Indies tour of India
Teams: West Indies

As one of cricket's iconic players takes his final cricketing curtain call in Mumbai later this month, another of its great survivors, another enduringly boyish member of Test cricket's exclusive 10,000-run club, will be watching from the opposing ranks, doubtless demonstrating the stickability that has been the hallmark of his crabbily productive batting down the years.

Shiv Chanderpaul's career is a model of the adaptability and durability required to survive in the international arena. Indeed, his is already the third-longest Test career in West Indian history, behind only George Headley (who joins Sachin Tendulkar as one of only five men to have played Tests in four separate decades) and Garry Sobers, and by the time he steps out in Kolkata for the first Test, it will be the 20th longest of all.

Given the famous Buddhist aphorism about a journey of a thousand miles beginning with a single step, if you are to survive for two decades at the sharp end, you first need to work out how to survive for a session. For Chanderpaul, that ability was developed in his formative years in rural Guyana.

"You learn to be tough in country cricket. We used to play friendlies between ourselves, and you always want to bat first. You always say, 'I'm first, I'm first.' The only way the others would get batting is if they get you out. You try everything to stay in. There are times when you're out and you say you're not out."

The singled-mindedness is perhaps apt for someone who hails from a place called Unity Village. Disputes over whether or not he was out never stopped the flow of bowling. "The guys from the village would come out and just be throwing balls at me all day long," Chanderpaul recalls with a gleeful smile.

Such was the solidity of those foundations that he has become a specialist in the epic Test match journey: four times he has batted undefeated for 1000 minutes, while he is the only man to have faced 1000 consecutive deliveries in Tests without being dismissed. Notwithstanding a glorious 69-ball hundred against Australia in 2003, he is, to invert a line that could be used about any number of his team-mates, generally there for a long time, not a good time.

"It's the way I prepare myself: going in the nets and batting for hours and hours. Thinking about the game - which goes for two-hour sessions, maybe two and a half - I prepare that way in the nets."

Even so, to survive for a session, or for 1000 minutes, you need to be in a position to pursue a Test career in the first place, and Chanderpaul is in no doubt that, for the first major step up of his career, into the Guyana team, he owes a debt to the generosity of his club.

"Guys would turn up for their country, maybe play trial games, and wouldn't get paid. So I had to find ways to pay all these things, and some people from my club helped me. I lived way up in the country and had to come to Georgetown to play cricket. My club president found some people to sponsor me, to pay for my transportation to come down to play. But not everyone got help. How were the players going to play if there's no money there?"

"You learn to be tough in country cricket. You always want to bat first. You always say, 'I'm first, I'm first'. The only way the others would get batting is if they get you out"

The span of Chanderpaul's career - he debuted in March 1994 - almost exactly coincides with the decline of West Indies. For all the theories about the pull of soccer in the region, and the allure of US university scholarships for basketball or track and field, he is adamant about where the issues lay: "We played Red Stripe games in the past and would get maybe $150 or so for the whole game. How are you gonna survive on $150 per game? You play five games in the whole year. You can't survive! When I came in, that's what I was getting paid."

Thanks to the support of people in Unity Village, as well as no little talent and dedication, Chanderpaul was soon playing with the big boys. It wasn't so easy at the grass roots.

"People from Guyana or Trinidad would leave for the USA or Canada to play cricket, because there was contracts there, and when they got back the local board members would say, 'These guys are not interested in playing cricket.' I was thinking: Why are you saying that? The guys are breaking their contract and coming back home to play, and you saying they're not interested in playing cricket! Right away that shows they're committed. You're not paying them a single cent to stay home and play, so they have to go overseas. They have to survive."

Nevertheless, Chanderpaul is equally adamant that the good times are on their way back, with T20 sparking the revival - not just through the inspiration provided by West Indies' World Twenty20 win in Sri Lanka last year, but the establishment of the Caribbean Premier League and its implications for the talented young players and cricketing ecology of his region.

"Cricket's still the most popular sport in the Caribbean and now that we've started the CPL, which went well this year, it will be for a long time in the future. This is what people in the Caribbean have been waiting for. I guess more kids are going to be interested in the game and more parents are going to be interested in bringing their kids back into cricket. We have a few sponsors now, some money's coming into the game, the players are going to be happy and cricket's going to be booming again."

As his own 17-year-old son, Tagenarine, starts out on his journey as a professional cricketer - father and son have played together for Guyana - Shiv, after a summer with Derbyshire, has to turn his attention to making runs for West Indies in the land of his forefathers.

It won't be easy, which is often the way he likes it: "As a batsman, you don't mind seeing the really flat pitches but it's also good when there's a challenge there for you and you have to dig in and you have to do well for your team. Sometimes you come out on top, sometimes you don't."

However harsh the subcontinental environment proves, Chanderpaul, hunkered under that crabby carapace (and his stance is likely to provide the majority of the sideways movement at both venues), will simply bang in his bail, same as always, and adapt: "Wherever you go there's home advantage, you might say, and the conditions will suit the home team. As a player you have to find a way to deal with it. You have to survive."

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Posted by   on (November 8, 2013, 19:27 GMT)

Chanderpaul and Dravid are highly underrated no prize for guessing due to whom. I feel Chanderpaul is a sheer genius that he has such a great record despite being part of a declining team.

Posted by Tyrone_Persaud on (November 8, 2013, 14:20 GMT)

My Cricketing Idol!! Shiv inspired me to want to play cricket. It is sad that Otis Gibson & company thinks the WI ODI Team is better without you. They maybe need a reminder of he "Players Strike" when you lead the Team to SL.

People from Guyana or Trinidad would leave for the USA or Canada to play cricket, because there was contracts there, and when they got back the local board members would say, 'These guys are not interested in playing cricket.' I was thinking: Why are you saying that? The guys are breaking their contract and coming back home to play, and you saying they're not interested in playing cricket! Right away that shows they're committed. You're not paying them a single cent to stay home and play, so they have to go overseas. They have to survive."

Shiv, you couldn't have said it any better - I love you man!!

I would like to see play First Class Cricket into your 40s.

Thanks for you inspiration!!

God Bless!!

Posted by android_user on (November 6, 2013, 3:02 GMT)

shiv is dravid for west Indians... he is one of my favorite player....!! he is one of the most underrated player I have ever seen,..

Posted by   on (November 6, 2013, 1:31 GMT)

All are Talking About Indian Maestro!!! Don't Forget that..Shiv is also Maestro for West Indies in Test Cricket...He will be a brand ambassador for test cricket for present and future generations!!! All the best for his game!!!

Posted by   on (November 5, 2013, 18:49 GMT)

George Headley played tests across four decades? The last time I checked, he debuted in 1930 and ended his career in 1954. So he could not have played tests across four separate decades unless January 1930 counts as the 1920s.

Posted by   on (November 5, 2013, 18:08 GMT)

10 runs needed in 2 balls for Windies and match won, not by Lara or by Gayle but by Chanderpaul. He is Windies Mr. Dependable

Posted by ragkvan on (November 5, 2013, 16:19 GMT)

I believe that chanderpaul is also in his 40's.. i believe this is the best time for him to call for the day.. as he will a part of history with sachin in mumbai if he announces his retirement..

Posted by Leg-Breaker on (November 5, 2013, 15:04 GMT)

Shiv - hoping for some good knocks from you - from a really sincere fan to an amazing cricketer and character. Good Luck

Posted by   on (November 5, 2013, 14:50 GMT)

Nice article, Shiv has stand the test of times, he is a true West Indian. You have done us proud and you are a true ambassador for the Caribbean. Continue to make us proud.

Posted by   on (November 5, 2013, 10:11 GMT)

@Dhanpaul Narine - what do u mean not understood. If his batting talent wasn't recognised, then he wouldn't end up with that many tests. Infact West Indians, like Sri Lankans, have full support for unorthodox cricket. This was evident in guys like viv richards, or even lara, whose batting was outside the coaching manual, yet had full backing from the selectors and emerged as the all time greats. Chanders probably won't be remembered as much by West Indians, as no one remembers the second best. Thats the cruel reality. Ricky pointing got all the fame in Australia, despite the wonderful batsman they had. Same can be said about Sachin, or even wasim akram (who completely overshadowed his equal waqar), or malcolm marshall.It is the best and most entertaining (as u said cylaspo) that grab all the attention.

Posted by Whispering_Holding on (November 5, 2013, 10:08 GMT)

@REALCRICFAN how many youngsters have we tried in the last 10 years and how many were flashes in the pan? You are the only guy here who said he should go, and while your opinion is valid, it is heavily outweighed. If a guy is performing and scoring, he should stay, especially if the others aren't. By your reckoning, we should also drop Sammy who has done a great job but does not seem like a long term prospect.

Posted by   on (November 5, 2013, 9:48 GMT)

Shiv , one of the most underrated player i have ever seen , I just wonder what not he did not achieve for Sest indies and world cricket but never been considered as one of great batsmen let alone greatest . If you will compare and remember his stat he has saved more matches for his country then lara . Still i do not know why people remember lara not Shiv , Just because he didn't play a inning of 300+ but always remain consistent,

Posted by   on (November 5, 2013, 8:01 GMT)

Shiv is the Dravid of WI cricket... Overshadowed by Lara, Gayle in hard hitting but alwayz solid, technician of memorable innings and always there when team get into trouble.... A true master batsman!!! Salute

Posted by balajik1968 on (November 5, 2013, 7:37 GMT)

With Tendulkar almost gone, Chanderpaul is now the elder statesman of cricket. We don't know how long this will last, because as Roebuck once put it, this is the age when things suddenly fall apart. Let us celebrate it while it lasts. He is one of the all time greats of the game.

Posted by RajeshNaik on (November 5, 2013, 6:37 GMT)

Shiv is one of my favorite players. I have a hunch that he is going to do very well in these 2 tests. No airs about him. Just goes about his job professionally. No flashiness, no style statements, just runs, runs and runs. George Bailey is another of my favorite players and he did very well in India. Now it is Shiv's turn.

Posted by   on (November 5, 2013, 0:25 GMT)

The Tiger is a class player. Windies will be in a state of bother to fill his spot in the batting order when he calls it quits.

Posted by rocket123 on (November 4, 2013, 22:51 GMT)

His talent will get his due when he is long gone. For almost 15 years he has been carrying the dead weight of WI batting but Lara got all the acclaim for his flamboyance. It is a pity that both Lara and Shiv played in a team in which 9 other players could not bat, a major reason for WI failures despite the fact that they had W and C in their bowling line-up. Shiv is by all means a great player and has done great service to WI cricket. He must be honored but the WI Board has done its best to dishonor a great servant of cricket. I just hope he gets the due recognition when he retires. A class act and definitely among three great WI batsmen in the order, Richards, Lara and Shiv. Keep moving on.

Posted by BRUTALANALYST on (November 4, 2013, 22:26 GMT)

Shiv can play long into his 40's he's like the Bernard Hopkins of cricket I can see him still batting at 50 if his eye's don't go ! HAHA

Posted by   on (November 4, 2013, 22:16 GMT)

Sachin may be god to many Indians but I love watching Shiv play just as much. Never again will a man of his ilk like him grace the field of cricket. And if I am wrong I will be all the more pleased.

Posted by   on (November 4, 2013, 21:29 GMT)

Magic batsman, I have always enjoyed his style. So hard to get out. I remember very early in his career he had exact stats as Stephen Fleming and neither had a century at that time. They both made their test debut on the same week. The question was who would get the first century. I think Shiv won that one and then 27 more followed. Fleming only managed 9 before calling it quits. Now 11000 runs are beckoning. Amazing cricketer.

Posted by   on (November 4, 2013, 18:44 GMT)

To CAM571,It takes someone with the most minute of knowledge to recognize the paramountcy of Chanderpaul's class.I have followed this sport all my life, and without a doubt, he is one of the greatest to grace the green fields.It is awkward to read of people condemning his greatness.Chanderpaul has suffered in the hands of the WI selectors who suggested to him to resign a few years ago,yet to date, WI cannot find a replacement to match his towering class.He has been the spine in their batting for over a decade and can perform in any format of the game like any top lplayer in world cricket.

Posted by   on (November 4, 2013, 18:33 GMT)

This man is a unique player, no one will be able to emulate him because of his own style of play not even his own son Tegnarine. Let it be known that Shiv has done Yoman service to the cricketing world. WI have done him wrong by not playing him in ODI's excuse was that he is to slow well remember in Australia 2003 when he scored a hundred in 63 balls only great batsman can turn it on anytime and shiv in surely one of the greats.

Posted by krik8crazy on (November 4, 2013, 18:21 GMT)

What a champ! Chanderpaul may not be the most spectacular batsman around but he is one of the most dedicated to his craft. His perseverance, consistency, and longevity is something to be admired. He has proven that cricket is not just about the dazzlers and the stars. "Blue collar worker" types can thrive in cricket too. I wish the other WI players would become half as dedicated and determined as him to make the WI a competitive team at the international level.

Posted by TamilIndian on (November 4, 2013, 17:58 GMT)

Wonderful read. Hoping that Chanders' words come true and carribean cricket booms again. West Indies make the game very colorful. I have always pulled for West Indies if they are not playing against India.

Posted by CodandChips on (November 4, 2013, 17:32 GMT)

Madness for WI to drop him from ODIs. Easily their best current batsman, only Darren Bravo is anywhere near to him. Fantastic player. Nightmare for opposition fans because he juts never looks like getting out.

Posted by   on (November 4, 2013, 17:23 GMT)

A maverick, a non conformist and a great competitor..Just hope kids dont follow his stance..there can be only one chanderpaul

Posted by   on (November 4, 2013, 17:17 GMT)

One of my favourite cricketers. A real star. Slow burner? Yes - the longer he's played the more I liked him.

Posted by   on (November 4, 2013, 17:08 GMT)

not the most fancy looking text book batsman... but i love watching him play.... he is like dravid of india who plays when team needs him and often doenst get credits which are due to him.... even though he score plenty against us indians, i always loved watching him play.... he will be playing 150th test in mumbai..... all the best for him..... will love to see a century or two from him.....

Posted by   on (November 4, 2013, 15:48 GMT)

One of the greats to play the game. Good luck in India, Shiv.

Posted by   on (November 4, 2013, 14:33 GMT)

Chanders is easily one of the best batsmen in World cricket. As rightly mentioned by many, he is so underrated yet overachieves every time. There were so many instances when he bailed WI out of trouble with his well oiled crease-occupying skills. A very hard batsman to dismiss even for a bowler at the helm of his affairs. His technique necessarily not the most admired one but make no mistakes about his temperament and character. He perhaps did put a higher price on his wicket than any of his other contemporaries in WI. While the whole world admires the prowess of Lara, Chanders is no less if not more. When he bows of world cricket one day, a batsman of a unique kind will be sorely missed. A tough nut in the crease, a gentleman on and off the field and a sportsperson of great spirit from Caribbean. No other cricketing system can produce a batsman of his nature ever again, let alone WI. A batsman of incredible capabilities and a true athlete in every sense.

Posted by   on (November 4, 2013, 14:18 GMT)

Chanderpaul is a truly great cricketer. He has been playing for nearly twenty years and has achieved a lot as a batsman. Some of his memorable knocks include the century against Australia in 2003 when WI chased down 417, and the hundred against SA in Port Elizabeth in 2007 where WI pulled off an unbelievable win. Probably one of the most underrated cricketers of all-time; it is because of his style and technique. That didn't stop him from scoring heavily for 2 decades, when his team kept getting worse everyday. At the end of the day, it's your performance that counts, not how elegant your strokes are. He has done well in different conditions, and is a fine player of both spin and pace. I have always been an admirer of him and still admire him a lot. I hope he keeps playing well till the day he retires.

Posted by   on (November 4, 2013, 14:04 GMT)

To the people saying that shiv doesn't bat with the tail... it may feel like this, since we're accustomed to how great lara was at batting with the tail. But shiv's average in drawn tests is 72.3, much higher than his career avg!

Posted by CricketChat on (November 4, 2013, 14:00 GMT)

While no one should be denied an opportunity to ply their trade, WI should move on from Chanderpaul. He can't be a long term option. Unlike an youngster, who even while sitting on the bench dues to poor form or injury can learn something to progress his career, Shiv can't benefit much if he doesn't play every game when in the team. Hopefully, WI selectors and fans can see this and give him a wonderful farewell during the upcoming series with India. I also hope he signs off on high scoring note.

Posted by class9ryan on (November 4, 2013, 13:29 GMT)

Its tough to hear he's never got his due respect. But somethings cannot be changed and Chanders has to live with it. Its very important that Shiv's son does play for West Indies if his father has to get his much due respect. I'm waiting when Tagenarine plays and I would remember Shiv then.

Posted by Fogu on (November 4, 2013, 13:26 GMT)

Very unassuming, like Dravid. Us BD fans have fond memory of him because how he treated our players and guided them. You go Shiv. One of the true gentlemen of the game.

Posted by   on (November 4, 2013, 12:59 GMT)

ShivNarine Chanderpaul, is easilly the most under rated cricket in the modern era, even in these times of one hit T20 wonders, his name is never (barely) mentioned in the greats lists, while his records suggest he should be 1 of the tom ten tests batsmen in the modern era, to the extent that he has won the ICC player of the year award. His brilliance will always be inder appreciated with his fearless head on approach to the bowler (which has inspired my batting stance), will sorely be missed.

Posted by CamS71 on (November 4, 2013, 12:56 GMT)

Moby Aly - "... he always keen to take single on very 1st ball of the over and 2nd ball like other great legend he never tried to bated from the both end"

Absolute nonsense. Clearly you've not watched him much. He's absolute class & has fought against more losing causes than any other player in the history of the game. Just imagine how poor the Windies would have been without over the last 10 years especially.

Posted by   on (November 4, 2013, 12:50 GMT)

A gentleman he is,his personality speaks volumes.It doesn't get simpler,a kid can strike a meaningful conversation with him, one of the greats of world cricket.I had the opportunity of chatting with him at lords on two occasions,and I know he will be forever loved by those that cross his path.His batting demonstrates the purpose of batsman ship.The greatest of bowlers prefer to bowl around him,especially when he starts seeing the cricket ball like a soccer ball.With an avg of over 50 in 149 tests,Shiv is truly a legend and belongs to the most distinguished of players that has ever played this great game.I wish him a hundred or two in this series.

Posted by popahwheely on (November 4, 2013, 12:25 GMT)

Shiv career is west indies decline because they were no better players coming through the system. He knows why WI is losing its because of the money there was no money in cricket. Now that's changing so i see WI cricket coming back. Shiv is a legend one of my favorite batsman.

Posted by 504429641 on (November 4, 2013, 11:20 GMT)

Shiv, the unorthodox cricketer with unique batting stance. He is surely a legend who has not got his credit. While Sachin plays 199th and 200th tests, Shiv plays 149th and 150th tests in this series. #Legend. If Lara to WI is like Sachin to India, then Shiv to WI is like Dravid to India. Both (Shiv and Dravid) deserved more credit than what they got.

Posted by JohnnyRook on (November 4, 2013, 8:29 GMT)

Shiv is truely under-rated, may be because he doesn't have typical carrebean flair...One thing which is often missed about him is his ODI stats. They are about as good as Sourav Ganguly (both average and Strike Rate). Also his test stats are only a couple of notches lower than Lara. Pity his career co-incided with the fall of West Indian Cricket, else he would have been a lot more celebrated than he is...

Posted by   on (November 4, 2013, 7:28 GMT)

I agree and not denying the fact but telling you honestly there were many moments that he was able to save the match but while batting with number 8 to 11 players, he always keen to take single on very 1st ball of the over and 2nd ball like other great legend he never tried to bated from the both end. May be other ll not agree with me but its a bitter truth and i gave a lot of example where he was in a position to save or win the game for WI but he rather tried to come as not out batsman rather then to save both end. Sorry for all of the lovers of Shiva but this is a fact so that's why he can't be a part of any Test XI.

Posted by NP_NY on (November 4, 2013, 5:46 GMT)

Shiv is a class act. The best test batsman WI has produced (besides Lara) in the last two decades. Look forward to seeing him bat in the upcoming series. Respect from India!

Posted by Ncnotorious on (November 4, 2013, 5:25 GMT)

This guy doesn't get the credit he deserves as being one of the West Indian's greats. Shiv the great! "They call me tiger"!

Posted by Fahii on (November 4, 2013, 5:18 GMT)

He is surely a part of today's ICC Test Xl. The most underratted player.

Posted by   on (November 4, 2013, 5:05 GMT)

Had the privilege of watching Shiv turn out for a Florida club side in the Philadelphia Intl cricket festival. Got the job done in his unassuming way!

Posted by   on (November 4, 2013, 4:25 GMT)

the most underrated man ever in cricket ever!!! his unique style is so irritating 2 us indians especially & as d writer mentions his career coincided wid d decline of WI cricket. he started his career as a legspinner against india & ironically became indias most prized wicket! wid due respect 2 lara his record against india isn't that gr8 but shiv always got runs against us. this being sachins farewell series i predict i big 100 from chanderpaul!!!

Posted by   on (November 4, 2013, 4:10 GMT)

Whenever west indies is playing a test game, only player opposition is worried about is Chanderpaul. He exists in every game like he has to play till the game ends.

Posted by   on (November 4, 2013, 3:48 GMT)

a remarkable batsman who doesn't get the recognition he deserves..

Posted by JoshFromJamRock on (November 4, 2013, 3:47 GMT)

Hail Shiv Chanderpaul!!! He loves playing the Indians and is guaranteed to score atleast two big 50+ scores in this upcoming series.

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