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Shivnarine Chanderpaul - A man of very few words but lots of runs

Ravi Mathur
466   //    27 Jan 2016, 11:48 IST
The second on the list of most runs scored for West Indies.

The first thought that came to my mind when I heard about Shivnarine Chanderpaul’s retirement was that was he the last West Indian batsman to score 10000 test runs. My concern may seem to be far-fetched to many but seeing the present state of affairs in West Indies cricket this certainly looks more and more apparent.

Chanderpaul made his debut in 1994 against England and announced himself with a defiant 62, the type of innings which will become the hallmark of his game for the next 21 years.

He was not flashy as Lara and did not had the muscle of a Gayle but he had his own peculiar way of nudging and deflecting ball in to the gaps with an unshakeable patience that eventually led him to the second on the list of most runs scored for West indies.

Not one dimensional

He ended up with 11867 runs to Lara’s 11,912. From time to time he came up with innings like his famous 69 ball hundred (joint fourth fastest in Tests) against the Australians in Georgetown in 2003.

Innings like that just sent out a message that he was not a one dimensional player and he had the game to turn it on when required.

He was a player who relied on his understated style of run making to take the team out of trouble in an era for West Indies cricket where he was the only one who looked consistently good to make it into World Test Team.

Peculiar side on stance

The other thing that made him famous was his side on stance that was nowhere close to the batting techniques that coaches around the world would teach their pupils. But it worked for Chanderpaul and it worked so well for him that he became more side on as the career progressed.

In an interview when asked about his technique he said that he has become more side on with the stance because it makes his stance more balanced. The result was that when the bowler started his run up he saw Chanderpaul facing the square leg umpire and that in itself was a sight which the fans will miss.

His other ritual of taking the bail and inserting it into the ground to mark his guard has been followed by many most notably Keiron Pollard.

Captaincy Stint

He also captained the side very briefly in 2005 but was faced with the problem of infighting he was not able to continue with it for a long time. His personality required the team to give him all the support but in the absence of it and players going on strike he eventually resigned and Lara took over the team reins for the third time.

Chanderpaul was a man of very few words and in an interview once he said that it was perhaps the most difficult time of his career as he was not getting any support from his team mates. This in turn affected his batting which eventually led to his resignation from the post.

He was a gritty customer, he was once floored by a Brett Lee bouncer in a test match only to find him with three figures an hour later. Even when he went above 40 he went through the whole series unbeaten, the Bangladeshi bowlers were sick of his sight but had to contend with a man who had his work ethic in place.

He was sometimes labelled as selfish because he remained not out in 49 of his test innings but people who knew the game understood that he was batting at the number 6 position with a tail that could barely last a session.

What’s the future for West Indies without him?

Towards the end of his career he was the only member of that team who knew how to put a price on his wicket. Now that he has retired and West Indies have faced heavy defeats in all the seven tests that they have played without him, they will realize the importance of the Guyanese batsman.

There are not many in this team who can lay claim to becoming the heir apparent to his craft in test matches. Darren Bravo plays an innings that makes us go wow from time to time but he is more in the mould of a Lara and less in the grind of Chanderpaul.

His son, Tagenarine Chanderpaul, played in the local first class tournament for the Guyana team. He opened the batting for the West Indies Under-19 team a couple of years ago in the World Cup.

If his age was the only issue that made the selectors decide than they can very well look at Misbah whom Pakistan will not let retire. Australia have handed a 35 years old Adam Voges a debut, South Africa now has a debut opener who is 33.

Maybe only time will tell but at the moment there isn’t any one in that West Indian line up who looks good to fill the big shoes of Chanderpaul.

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Ravi Mathur
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