West Indies' recent tour of New Zealand was largely about two batsmen doing the bulk of the work in both forms of the game, with erratic support from the rest. Chris Gayle and Shivnarine Chanderpaul were immense throughout: both averaged more than 100 in the Test series, and in the rain-hit one-dayers they were again the leading run-scorers, almost clinching the series for the team with a 170-run stand in the fifth match.
Over the last year and a half in ODIs, the story for West Indies has been the consistency of these two left-handers. What they did in New Zealand was hardly an aberration: in the three-match series against Pakistan in Abu Dhabi a couple of months back, they were the only ones to score centuries for West Indies - Gayle got two and Chanderpaul one. Not surprisingly, they topped the averages chart in that series. In the home series against Australia earlier last year, they were again West Indies' leading run-getters. Their styles may be vastly different, but Gayle and Chanderpaul have remarkably similar numbers in ODIs over the last 18 months.
Not only have they been West Indies' best, they've also topped the list for all batsmen who've scored more than 750 ODI runs during this period. Chanderpaul has an exceptional average, and coupled with his strike-rate of nearly 76, it gives him a batting index (average multiplied by strike-rate) of 63.36. Gayle's index of 56.17 is a combination of a superb strike-rate of almost 90 and an average of 62. Both are well clear of Mohammad Yousuf and Virender Sehwag, the only others with a 50-plus index.
Despite those numbers by West Indies' two leading batsmen, though, the team itself has struggled during this period, winning 13 out of 34 matches, with a win-loss ratio of 0.76. Sides with fewer individual stars have done much better - Australia have a win-loss ratio of 3.16 with just one batsman in the top ten. (Ricky Ponting, Michael Hussey and Matthew Hayden miss the 750-run cut, but even their numbers aren't as good as Gayle and Chanderpaul's: Hussey averages 52, while Ponting and Hayden only average 42. Click here for a full list.)
Gayle has scored four centuries during this period, but three of those have been in losing causes, including his 135 against New Zealand in Napier. In 12 losses during this period, he averages 48, at a strike-rate of 91.57. The numbers are even more stark for Chanderpaul - he averages more than 71 in the 15 losses that he has been a part of during this period, with two centuries and five fifties.
All this points to the dire state of the rest of the West Indies batting, and their generally lacklustre bowling - it hasn't helped either that Ramnaresh Sarwan missed much of the 2007-08 season due to injury. The table below points to the overall poor figures of West Indies' batting, despite their two stalwarts. (For numbers of individual West Indian batsmen, click here.) Gayle and Chanderpaul have contributed 36.55% of the total runs scored by the team (2272 out of 6216), which is another indicator of how spineless the rest of the batting has been.
Gayle's 135 was his ninth century in a defeat, which puts him in second place - next only to Sachin Tendulkar - in the list of batsmen who have scored the highest number of hundreds in defeats, while Chanderpaul is in joint sixth place. Brian Lara leads the corresponding Test table; the way the West Indian team is going, Gayle has a good chance of going on to top the ODI list.
Another area of concern for West Indies has been the performance of their wicketkeeper with the bat: Denesh Ramdin played a large part in the team's only ODI win in New Zealand, but his overall displays with the bat have been anything but satisfactory: in 18 innings over the last year and a half, Ramdin averages 12.75, with a highest of 31. And if the argument is that the West Indian wicketkeeper bats much lower down the order than his counterparts in other teams, check out the numbers for the No. 7 - a position Ramdin usually occupies - from each team. West Indies' No. 7 averages 9.36, lower than all other Test-playing teams.
None of that has stopped the Chanderpaul-Gayle run-machine, though: in 61 innings they have put together 2729 partnership runs, which is third in the all-time list for West Indies, next only to Greenidge-Haynes and Haynes-Richardson. Expect the pair to move up to at least second spot by the time they are done. For the team, though, the journey upwards looks far more arduous.