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Shivnarine Chanderpaul - a man for all seasons

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Tom Fordyce | 20:13 UK time, Thursday, 17 May 2012

On the first day of the brand new Test summer at Lord's, it was as if nothing had ever changed.

Men wore striped blazers and duck-egg blue trousers, England's bowling attack ran through a struggling opposition line-up and Shivnarine Chanderpaul pushed and poked his way to within earshot of a century while those around him could only flash and dash.

Chanderpaul is now into his 140th Test. With his strange batting stance, all skewed feet and sideways bat, he is as graceful as a breeze-block and as hard to shift as a foundation stone, an imperturbable oddity in a fast-forward Twenty20 world. So long has he been around that he probably refers to Old Father Time as 'Junior'.

He is also as effective a batsman as his country have ever produced. His 87 not out here, from a total of 243-9, brought his tally of Test runs over the past 18 years to a staggering 10,142 - more than Gavaskar, more than King Viv, more than Boycott, Sobers or Greenidge.

He is the ultimate example of substance over style. And those more celebrated swashbucklers he has long since overtaken are enormously grateful for every last obstinate over.

"He's a talisman, and he has been for quite some time," says Sir Viv Richards, perhaps the most charismatic batsman in West Indies history.

"In a team of inexperienced players, Shivnarine has done as much as any West Indian batsman of the past. I have him up there with the very best - Lara, Sobers. He's at the top of tree as far as I'm concerned because of the teams he has played in."

Chanderpaul made 87 not out in his 140th Test match. Photo: Reuters

Chanderpaul at the crease can look as ungainly as Richards was mesmeric. So how can that techinique produce so many priceless runs?

"It goes to show you that sometimes the coaching manual can be astray," says Richards, at Lord's as an expert summariser for Test Match Special.

"As a batsman you have to find a technique that's suitable to you. He long ago found that style worked for him - the two-eyed stance looking back down the track.

"It might look a little ungainly, but the most important thing is that at the point of contact with the ball, his bat is as straight as anyone in the world, and he gets himself into the same position as anyone with an orthodox stance.

"He played a few shots through the off side today. If he wasn't in a good position he wouldn't be able to accomplish that, or to stroke the ball as sweetly as he did.

"It doesn't matter if your bat pick-up is as wide as third slip or gully, if it comes down straight. If you find something unorthodox that works for you, you don't throw it away."
Chanderpaul experienced several moments at Lord's on Thursday that could have derailed lesser batsmen.

He was perilously close to being given out shouldering arms to a vicious James Anderson in-swinger, reprieved from a lbw death by an unlikely referral, should have been sent packing after being trapped on the front pad by Graeme Swann, and managed to run out the immensely talented Darren Bravo by the length of the entire pitch.

None of it appeared to make the slightest difference to his tempo or temperament. As wickets fell to Stuart Broad with percussive regularity at the other end, Chanderpaul just kept keeping on.

Thousands of miles away in India, his former team-mate Chris Gayle was working a very different kind of batting magic, smashing an astonishing 128 off 62 balls, including 13 sixes, in the IPL.

Chanderpaul is no-one's idea of a big-money IPL marquee man. It is no sort of failure, though. "He's such a calm individual, and he plays within himself," says Richards.

"If he was in a swimming pool, he'd always stay in water where he could keep his feet on the bottom.

"He just doesn't get flustered. Some batsmen, after that run-out with Bravo, would have thought that they owed something to the team, and gone hell for leather.

"As a batsman you have to put that out of your mind. Whether it's his fault or Bravo's, it doesn't matter once it's happened. What matters is the team. Settle down, play your natural game.

"His temperament is as good as anyone I've seen. I'm quite surprised the younger batsmen in the team haven't looked at his success and tried to replicate it.

"When he left the tour of India, there was a lot of talk that he had been sent a letter from those in power, saying he should think about packing it up and making room for some younger guys to come through. That is crazy.

"The West Indies need him so much, and he's got a way to go yet. He was never an aggressive player, so as the years go by it doesn't matter that his eyes are a little older. He lives well, lives healthily, and what he has achieved is a testament to his professionalism."

Some critics believe Chanderpaul is a little wasted coming in at five. With only Bravo above him a Test batsman of real class, wouldn't he be better facing more balls and ensuring he never runs out of partners again?

"Not at all," says Richards. "Whenever a guy's getting it done for you, leave them alone.

"We had the same issue with Jeff Dujon. Because he was such a flamboyant batsman, the thinking of some was that we should move him a little higher in the order. But often that doesn't work.

"You try to get your players in areas that will most benefit the team. And Chanderpaul is at his very best at five.

"I've been a fan of his for a long, long time, because he has held this West Indies team together."


  • Comment number 1.

    Whenever England played the West Indies it was always Chanderpaul who made me more nervous than Gayle, or even Lara. Apart from the two notable innings at Antiga, Lara was not a thorn in Englands side, and Gayle normally gets a quick 20 and then gets out. However, Chanderpaul will bat all day be almost imposible to remove. As a batsmen who averages 65 in England, the highest of any country he has played in, I have a huge amount of respect for him.

  • Comment number 2.

    Chanderpaul, along with Dravid and Tendulker, is one of the most outstanding batsmen of the last ten or so years.

  • Comment number 3.

    Shiv Chanderpaul is my favourite opposition player from any country. He may be a diminutive figure but his appetite for the fight is huge and his ungainly stance is almost comical but effective. To watch him fidget at the crease would make you think that he is anxious before every shot but he takes every ball in his stride and looks totally in control. I would like to see a strong Windies side come to the fore again with a bowling line up on a par in class with players like Chanderpaul.

  • Comment number 4.

    Does anyone know what his current test average is?

  • Comment number 5.

    Every Test side needs a Chanderpaul, someone prepared to play ugly when the needs arises. It's a quirk of timing that his latest masterclass in accumulation comes on a day when Chris Gayle demonstrates his own mastery of hit and giggle cricket, dumping several Indian bowlers over the ropes (and one might think India should be worried for their Test fortunes, given that the like of Pathan, Aaron, and Yadav could all make decent claims for a Test place). On one hand you have a man who many see as playing for personal glory: on the other, you saw perhaps the best team-focused batsman in world cricket right now play so well at Lords.

    @David. Saying Lara was never a thorn in England's side is inaccurate. Take the 1995 series in England as an example, a series England won 2-1. Lara scored 765 runs at 85 (the best Englishman, Atherton, scoring 488 runs at a shade under 50). Lara scored 3 centuries: the entire England team in 6 Tests managed two. Chanderpaul only played two of the Tests and Lara certainly did all he could to make up for that loss. Given that Lara averages 48 in England, it's hard to say he wasn't an obstacle. Chanderpaul's record in England is phenomenal though. You can't argue with an average approaching 70!

  • Comment number 6.

    His current test average is 50.45. Truly world class within a team of mediocrity.

  • Comment number 7.

    no. 3: "Shiv Chanderpaul is my favourite opposition player from any country" - totally agree, alongwith Kallis and Sachin.

    Saw Shiv at Trent Bridge in 1995, in just his 8th Test - he was not out on 12 for 64 minutes!! However, Lara was at the other end on his way to a majestic 152, so can't complain!!

  • Comment number 8.

    #5. Lara's record against England is better than his overall average but he scored his big scores in batsman friendly pitches

    I don't remember him with game changing was more down to the bowlers doing the damage

    Chanderpaul when he comes in you know he is going to occupy the crease for long periods...that is the sort of the batsman England need in the middle order

    Australia had it with Steve Waugh and Allan Border who batted no higher than No 5

    Going back to Lara I always felt he did give you chances like Gayle in trying to go after the bowlers.

    i don't think people realised but Lara did get exposed by Harmison 's height on the short ball a few times where he had trouble hooking due to his high back lift action on his bat

  • Comment number 9.

    I would like to differ from your take on todayss game.. it showed that after 10000plus runs, he cannot read the game ..2 examples.. the run out of Bravo..ball watching instead of listen to his other batsman to judge a run thats gone behind him,, and in the 90th over of the day facing the 1st ball and exposing a bowler to face the new ball, when he should taken on that responsibility and face out that over, coming bact in the morning still with 8 down..

  • Comment number 10.

    If you want a batsman to bat for your li fe and the team then

    Chanderpaul alongside Dravid, Waugh and Boycott would make up the quarter who would not throw their wicket away and occupy the crease

  • Comment number 11.

    #9 the run out was daft as it was Bravo's call who was running to the danger end and there should have been a better response ...he's not as bad as Shane Watson mind you who has been involved in at least 10 run outs

    the last over situation would you rather the main batsman is out or the tailender ? You do not want to expose the senior batsman to a testing last over

    ie what if Shiv got out last ball of the day then ?

    I remember the furore when FLintoff or KP was dismissed last ball of the day when it was Anderson's responsibility as nightwatchman t see the over through

    I am sure the Windies would prefer SHiv still at the crease than back in the pavillion

  • Comment number 12.

    England could have done with a "Chanderpaul" during the series against Pakistan and Sri Lanka...
    As someone tweeted on the TMS thread - it's going to be Shivnarine Chanderpaul vs England. Completely agree with Sir Viv - Shiv will go down as one of the best in West Indies history, alongside Sobers and Lara. Completely underrated, and still playing at the top of his game at 37 years old. For him to be the no.1 batman in the world at that age is a testament to his professionalism...
    One other thing - if Dravid was known as "The Wall", what does that make Chanderpaul? Surely there's a much better nickname than "The Crab"...

  • Comment number 13.

    Portcullis? The Fort? Roadblock? The obstructor?

  • Comment number 14.

    Kindly keep in mind that obdurate as he is ,he's got the 4th fastest Test century....

  • Comment number 15.

    And his real nickname is "Tiger"....

  • Comment number 16.

    Mr_Joolz_MF: Agreed!

    And so far as England is concerened he is, and and always has been, "The Thorn".

  • Comment number 17.

    Chanderpaul's performances in a weak batting line-up have been extraordinary - indeed the worse the West indies seem to perform, the more runs Shiv scores.

    However, I find myself disagreeing with King Viv here. Chanderpaul simply has to bat higher up the order and help set the platform for the younger guys to come in and build upon. Surely, that is better than coming in at not a lot for three and then having to bat with the tail?

    So is Chanderpaul selfish or selfless?

  • Comment number 18.

    @13: When I read 'Roadblock', I just thought of the Stock Aitkin & Waterman song from the 80's. At least he'd have his own theme tune....

    I do like 'The Thorn' though.

  • Comment number 19.

    Shiv should have got a hundred. Hard luck.
    7-72 is a massive performance by Broad.
    Should have been some more runs on the
    board for the visitors.

    Dr. Cajetan Coelho

  • Comment number 20.

    If Chanderpaul had been born in England he would never had played a club match let alone test match cricket. The reason is that our coaches automatically distrust any technique that is not out of the recognised cricket manual. That is why we'll produce solid cricketers but never the genius's like other countries do.

    Sadly, if you were offered the chance to watch any cricketer playing today it's highly unlikely any of the current England side would be in that list despite them being the number one ranked side in the world.

  • Comment number 21.


    Disagree with you there. KP would be in there, as would arguably Swann, Anderson and Broad.

  • Comment number 22.

    I guess with the rise of the shorter format young pro's would rather model themselves on the Gayle's and Warners of this world making the Chanderpauls and Dravids an increasing rarity.

    I disagree with the remark about the un-orthodox not making it through in England. There may have been a tendancy in the past but there has certainly been a move away from that particularly in bowling (a mixed action maybe coached out but if legal and effective and not likely to cause injury then all is good). And even in the past we have had the Peter Willies , Kim Barnetts and Derrek Randells of this world as far as odd stances go and more latterly Morgan (Ok he hails from Ireland but is part of the county system). As Viv points out although Chanderpaul stance is un-orthodox he still models the components of most successful batsman such as a straight bat. In swimming you see top class swimmers with odd looking strokes above the water, but if you look where it counts (under the water) they still follow the key elements of success. I think the same is true in batting its not the position you starting it is the position you end up in when you hit the ball.

  • Comment number 23.

    I agree totally with TK re unorthodoxy, because I do believe our current international batting coach had something of an unorthodox stance himself.....

  • Comment number 24.

    Re 20.

    Other exciting England players in the current team (apart from those mentioned by 21) Bell, a classical batsman, Prior, a thumping batsman, Bresnan an all rounder with a test batting average of 40. And the ever popular Monty doesn´t even get in the team.

    Some people just don´t like England, regardless of how good or exciting they are. Nr1 in the test game and reigning 20twenty world champs

  • Comment number 25.

    Had Chanderpaul been an Indian instead, what's the betting his test average would now be ten runs higher. Extraordinary player indeed.

  • Comment number 26.

    Great batsman he is, despite his crab-like stance at the crease--whatever works I suppose!

    Last evening, facing the final over of the day, with Fidel Edwards at the other end, I could not understand why Shiv took a single off the first ball to expose his weaker partner, knowing that he was so close to his 26th ton.

    Most batsmen would have played out the over for obvious reasons!

  • Comment number 27.

    Post 20:

    You make a very good point!

  • Comment number 28.

    @#8. IL_LEONE wrote:

    "Lara's record against England is better than his overall average but he scored his big scores in batsman friendly pitches"

    Yes that is true, which is why I pointed out the 1995 series in England. Those were not batsmen-friendly pitches yet he was a cut above anyone else on either side.

    If you look at the period where West Indies were on the slide (pretty much 1997 onwards in my opinion), the batting was the problem. From the start of 1997 to the start of 2001, Lara averaged 42 and few were close to him. The openers changed regularly as did the wicketkeeper, Carl Hooper frequently failed to live up to his ability, and even someone like Chanderpaul for that same 1997-2001 period was averaging mid 30s. Jimmy Adams started well but during 1997 to 2001 was averaging 25. Too many times Lara was ploughing the lone furrow as all around him collapsed. His career was entirely different to that of Tendulkar who could rely on having the like of Sidhu, Azhar, Dravid, Kambli (briefly), Sehwag, Ganguly... Lara had nobody else beyond Chanderpaul for much of his career.

    "I don't remember him with game changing was more down to the bowlers doing the damage"

    The West Indies batting went off far quicker than the bowling did. Walsh, Ambrose, and the much underrated Kenny Benjamin frequently got the batsmen out of the mire. If you don't remember Lara with game-changing innings, then I suggest you go to your favourite video website and watch the entire 1999 WI-Australia series. Game-changing and match-winnings innings ahoy against a superb attack!

    "Chanderpaul when he comes in you know he is going to occupy the crease for long periods...that is the sort of the batsman England need in the middle order"

    Why? We have three of those guys at the top of the order in Strauss, Trott, and Cook. Indeed, our gameplan now seems to be to occupy the crease, get through past the second new ball and then attack with the like of KP, Bell, Prior, and presumably the new boy Bairstow. Australia were past masters at the late charge with the like of Symonds and Gilchrist there to assault a tiring attack.

    Chanderpaul is needed to occupy time at the crease for the West Indies because their top order is flaky. Their middle order is also flaky. The tail end... need I say more?!?

    "Going back to Lara I always felt he did give you chances like Gayle in trying to go after the bowlers."

    Undoubtedly. That's what made him so thrilling to watch. The same were true of Viv Richards. The potential for getting out to a slightly poor shot was there but when the shot came off, it was exhilarating.

    "i don't think people realised but Lara did get exposed by Harmison 's height on the short ball a few times where he had trouble hooking due to his high back lift action on his bat"

    It was actually more visible in South Africa against Donald and Pollock, from memory the 1998-99 winter series. Lara was troubled and in bad form that winter, and the hook and pull did for him at least a couple of times. It's usually the sign of whether he was in form or not. If he was pulling and hooking well, bowlers beware!


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