WI left exposed by Chanderpaul failure

Dale Steyn celebrates after getting Shivnarine Chanderpaul out caught behind AFP

Batting calypso-style; batting collapso-style; bowling with the fire of babylon, bowling like that same flame was put out years ago; snatching balls out of a blue sky, spilling them with as much drama - Denesh Ramdin has seen it all. Except one thing: "It's the first time I have seen Shiv fail," he said.

With 91 runs from five innings, Shivnarine Chanderpaul had the leanest tour among the West Indian specialist batsmen and finished with exactly the same numbers as the captain himself. Between them, they were supposed to form the core of the middle-order and that they were so easily dismantled was one of the chief causes of West Indies' defeats.

"Everyone expected Shiv and myself to get some more runs. Shiv has been doing it for the past six or seven years that I have been around. And then I didn't have the best time," Ramdin said. "Hopefully in the one-day series, I will get some runs."

Significant scores are much needed for Ramdin, whose recent Test form has flagged. With just five runs from two Tests against Bangladesh before this series, Ramdin has not been able to build on the form he showed over the last two years. In 10 Tests between November 2012 and June this year, Ramdin averaged a shave under 50, scored two centuries and three fifties and seemed to be setting himself up to become one of the bookends of stability in the West Indies team.

Then captaincy came and brought with it the extra responsibility of being the latest man tasked with trying to lead West Indies from the doldrums. Ramdin has found that his own game has suffered. Instead of leading by example he has to watch while the likes of Kraigg Brathwaite and Leon Johnson show the temperament he is lacking and still find the courage to tell them they're not doing enough. "We need to take ownership of our game. We make 60s and 70s and think we can keep our place for the next series but we need to score back to back hundreds," Ramdin said.

When not even one of the most experienced men on the international circuit - Chanderpaul - is doing that, it's easy to see how the rest lack an example but Ramdin hopes they stole with the eyes from South Africa. He has repeatedly mentioned Stiaan van Zyl as the man his young batsmen should look up to, after the left-hander's century on debut. Van Zyl played 96 first-class matches before being given an opportunity for the national side, which showed that time in the domestic game can be vital to making the step up.

As much as Chanderpaul has defied father time, he may be wondering if his alarm bell is about to ring. This series was his least successful in two years, when he scored 52 in a two-match contest against New Zealand, and the least number of runs he has scored in a three-match series since his 74 against New Zealand nine years ago in 2006.

While he has been around long enough to understand the ebbs and flows of form, he may be concerned with the ways he was dismissed in these matches. In the first Test, he was nicked off twice - to a full delivery from Vernon Philander and then a short one from Dale Steyn - in the second Test, he was the victim of a freak dismissal when he misread a googly from Imran Tahir that dribbled onto his stumps and in this match, he was stumped off a Simon Harmer delivery wide of legstump that caught him overbalancing as he tried to regain his ground, and run out.

All those suggest Chanderpaul's reflexes and speed are not what they used to be and with a stance like his, he needs both at their best to get into line as quickly as possible. Before the second Test in Port Elizabeth he admitted his approach at the crease has become more pronouncedly square "for balance" as he has got older and he does not know how much he can turn before presenting his back to the bowler. Perhaps he will find the answer from this series.

Chanderpaul's record demands he remains part of West Indies' set-up for now and Ramdin said it will be "up to him" to decide how long he wants to continue. West Indies will hope they have him for a fair amount of time yet, because he remains the one person who they see as a success, which serves as a comfort for the times when they fail.