Showing posts with label great player. Show all posts
Showing posts with label great player. Show all posts

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

A salute to Shivnarine Chanderpaul




SHIV, THE LAST MAN STANDING


Twenty-one years now, since Shivnarine Chanderpaul’s first Test. England, at the Bourda in Georgetown, 17 March 1994. West Indies were then still the No1 team in the world, and to stay so for another 12 months, till their watershed loss to Australia the following spring. Opening the batting, Desmond Haynes, playing in his 113th Test, and Richie Richardson, in his 74th. Opening the bowling, Curtly Ambrose and Courtney Walsh. Alongside the young Chanderpaul in the middle order, Brian Lara – soon to break Garry Sobers’ record Test score – and Jimmy Adams, early in the purple patch of form that saw him average 70 in his first 20 Tests. Another era altogether then, one when the West Indies, while waning, still played with some of the fire and brilliance that had made them one of the greatest teams in history.

Brian Lara has berated the West Indies selectors and the WICB for seeking to denyShivnarine Chanderpaul the chance of a final Test series against Australia, demanding that his former teammate be reinstated for a farewell along the lines of that given to Sachin Tendulkar by the BCCI.

Chanderpaul was 19, and so slim that both his shirt and pads seemed several sizes too big for him. He was called in as a replacement for Phil Simmons, now West Indies’ head coach. Some said he was only there to please the Guyanese. “A politically shrewd selection,” wrote Derek Pringle in The Independent. Wisden, in one of those odd and endearing miscalculations it occasionally makes, reported that he was included “as much for his leg-breaks as his left-handed batting”. And he did bowl 16 overs, all wicketless, in the first innings. Things became clearer when, in at No6, he hit his first four, a glorious cut behind point off Alan Igglesden. That afternoon Chanderpaul battered England’s attack, and scored the first of his 66 Test 50s. There was a pitch invasion when he got there, and Adams had to drag away a couple of fans who wanted to grab the boy’s bat.

After his last Test century – 101 against Bangladesh in St Lucia last September – Chanderpaul needed to score 228 runs to overtake Lara as the West Indies’ leading run-scorer in Test cricket. Now, he still needs another 71 to do it. His progress towards the record has been slow and faltering, 91 runs in six innings against South Africa, 67 in four so far against England. At his age, even a short run of low scores is enough to make people wonder whether his time is finally up. His next Test will be his 164th, and put him fifth on the all-time list alongside Rahul Dravid. Sachin Tendulkar is the only man who has made it beyond the 160s. For West Indies, Australia are next up. It seems like these could be some the final few scenes of Chanderpaul’s career.
Advertisement


Chanderpaul is 40 now, and has spent the last two years playing alongside his own son, Tagenarine, for Guyana. At the end of 2012 they put on 256 runs together – 143 for the father, 112 for the son – in a club match against the Transport Sports Club. Delightfully amateur, that. Tagenarine is another left-hander and, like his old man, he often uses his bat to knock a bail into the ground to mark his guard. He too grew up playing on the hard earth of Unity Village, he too was coached by Khemraj Chanderpaul, Shiv’s father, Tagenarine’s grandfather. He did have the advantage, however, of being able to play on a relaid pitch, by a rebuilt pavilion. His father paid for the upgrades, a gift to his village. When Shiv was a boy, he played on a strip on the side of the village pitch so that he could practice without disturbing the senior players. Then, at night, he would bat against a ball tucked into a sock, hanging from a rope tied to the roof.

With Shiv, the story has always been that he was shaped by those early years in Unity. A small kid with scrappy kit, playing on rough wickets against tough men. He evolved that home-spun style all of his own; the open, awkward stance, chest half-turned to the bowler, playing late often as not, looking to slide the ball behind square. The first time he did it in a Test, to take a four off Angus Fraser, Geoff Boycott was commentating. “That’s exactly why England should be bowling as much as possible at the youngster, Chanderpaul … he never really got forward, he fell into the shot.”

Chanderpaul was shaped, too, by the circumstances of his career, which has exactly overlapped with the decline and fall of the team. Lara’s did too, of course, but he was so richly blessed that he always seemed almost to rise above his team-mates, a man apart. Whereas Shiv seems to have spent his talent propping them up. Lara went in 2006. Walsh in 2001, Ambrose in 2000, Richardson in 1995, Haynes in 1994. Shiv has played with almost 100 others since he made his debut. And even the best of them – Chris Gayle and Ramnaresh Sarwan – have now come and gone. Others were hardly there at all. A full 42 of them played in only five Tests or fewer.

Back in 2003, in another home Test at the Bourda, against Australia this time, Chanderpaul played one of the great counterattacking innings. West Indies had won the toss, and chosen to bat. An hour before lunch, they were 53 for five. An hour after it, 184 for six. In between, Chanderpaul cut, pulled, and drove a hundred off 69 balls, then third-fastest century Test ever scored. A little glimpse of his latent attacking talent, a hint of the batsman he might have been if he had been playing in a different era, or for another team. His last hundred, the one against Bangladesh at the Beausejour, took 138 balls, and was the fastest he has scored since. In between the two, he turned himself into one of the most cussed batsmen ever to play the game, a man who measured his innings out in hours and days, rather than runs and balls.

Chanderpaul turned himself into the great rearguard batsman, a man who never quits and never surrenders. Unsurprisingly, he has been not out more often than any other batsman in history. Some have said he is dull, others that he is selfish. But he has only been doing what he has to. He has, for instance, been involved in more run-outs than anyone in Test cricket, 25 altogether. And on 21 of those occasions, it’s been his partner who has had to walk off. No wonder. Chanderpaul has had to play that way, fuelled by the Boycott-like certainty that West Indies’ best chance is if he is at the wicket. He has scored more runs in lost matches than any other batsman.

The final years of Chanderpaul’s career have too often been characterised by what Wisden called the “yawning gap between his skill, commitment and experience” and that of his team-mates. After Lara quit, Chanderpaul took on the load. He’s been carrying it ever since, always unbowed, often undefeated. If – or rather when – he gets those final few runs and overtakes his old team-mate, it will be odd to see him there, top of the record lists, above the likes of Lara, Viv Richards, and Garry Sobers. But after all he has done, no one would begrudge him his place.

A salute to Shivnarine Chanderpaul




SHIV, THE LAST MAN STANDING


Twenty-one years now, since Shivnarine Chanderpaul’s first Test. England, at the Bourda in Georgetown, 17 March 1994. West Indies were then still the No1 team in the world, and to stay so for another 12 months, till their watershed loss to Australia the following spring. Opening the batting, Desmond Haynes, playing in his 113th Test, and Richie Richardson, in his 74th. Opening the bowling, Curtly Ambrose and Courtney Walsh. Alongside the young Chanderpaul in the middle order, Brian Lara – soon to break Garry Sobers’ record Test score – and Jimmy Adams, early in the purple patch of form that saw him average 70 in his first 20 Tests. Another era altogether then, one when the West Indies, while waning, still played with some of the fire and brilliance that had made them one of the greatest teams in history.

Brian Lara has berated the West Indies selectors and the WICB for seeking to denyShivnarine Chanderpaul the chance of a final Test series against Australia, demanding that his former teammate be reinstated for a farewell along the lines of that given to Sachin Tendulkar by the BCCI.

Chanderpaul was 19, and so slim that both his shirt and pads seemed several sizes too big for him. He was called in as a replacement for Phil Simmons, now West Indies’ head coach. Some said he was only there to please the Guyanese. “A politically shrewd selection,” wrote Derek Pringle in The Independent. Wisden, in one of those odd and endearing miscalculations it occasionally makes, reported that he was included “as much for his leg-breaks as his left-handed batting”. And he did bowl 16 overs, all wicketless, in the first innings. Things became clearer when, in at No6, he hit his first four, a glorious cut behind point off Alan Igglesden. That afternoon Chanderpaul battered England’s attack, and scored the first of his 66 Test 50s. There was a pitch invasion when he got there, and Adams had to drag away a couple of fans who wanted to grab the boy’s bat.

After his last Test century – 101 against Bangladesh in St Lucia last September – Chanderpaul needed to score 228 runs to overtake Lara as the West Indies’ leading run-scorer in Test cricket. Now, he still needs another 71 to do it. His progress towards the record has been slow and faltering, 91 runs in six innings against South Africa, 67 in four so far against England. At his age, even a short run of low scores is enough to make people wonder whether his time is finally up. His next Test will be his 164th, and put him fifth on the all-time list alongside Rahul Dravid. Sachin Tendulkar is the only man who has made it beyond the 160s. For West Indies, Australia are next up. It seems like these could be some the final few scenes of Chanderpaul’s career.
Advertisement


Chanderpaul is 40 now, and has spent the last two years playing alongside his own son, Tagenarine, for Guyana. At the end of 2012 they put on 256 runs together – 143 for the father, 112 for the son – in a club match against the Transport Sports Club. Delightfully amateur, that. Tagenarine is another left-hander and, like his old man, he often uses his bat to knock a bail into the ground to mark his guard. He too grew up playing on the hard earth of Unity Village, he too was coached by Khemraj Chanderpaul, Shiv’s father, Tagenarine’s grandfather. He did have the advantage, however, of being able to play on a relaid pitch, by a rebuilt pavilion. His father paid for the upgrades, a gift to his village. When Shiv was a boy, he played on a strip on the side of the village pitch so that he could practice without disturbing the senior players. Then, at night, he would bat against a ball tucked into a sock, hanging from a rope tied to the roof.

With Shiv, the story has always been that he was shaped by those early years in Unity. A small kid with scrappy kit, playing on rough wickets against tough men. He evolved that home-spun style all of his own; the open, awkward stance, chest half-turned to the bowler, playing late often as not, looking to slide the ball behind square. The first time he did it in a Test, to take a four off Angus Fraser, Geoff Boycott was commentating. “That’s exactly why England should be bowling as much as possible at the youngster, Chanderpaul … he never really got forward, he fell into the shot.”

Chanderpaul was shaped, too, by the circumstances of his career, which has exactly overlapped with the decline and fall of the team. Lara’s did too, of course, but he was so richly blessed that he always seemed almost to rise above his team-mates, a man apart. Whereas Shiv seems to have spent his talent propping them up. Lara went in 2006. Walsh in 2001, Ambrose in 2000, Richardson in 1995, Haynes in 1994. Shiv has played with almost 100 others since he made his debut. And even the best of them – Chris Gayle and Ramnaresh Sarwan – have now come and gone. Others were hardly there at all. A full 42 of them played in only five Tests or fewer.

Back in 2003, in another home Test at the Bourda, against Australia this time, Chanderpaul played one of the great counterattacking innings. West Indies had won the toss, and chosen to bat. An hour before lunch, they were 53 for five. An hour after it, 184 for six. In between, Chanderpaul cut, pulled, and drove a hundred off 69 balls, then third-fastest century Test ever scored. A little glimpse of his latent attacking talent, a hint of the batsman he might have been if he had been playing in a different era, or for another team. His last hundred, the one against Bangladesh at the Beausejour, took 138 balls, and was the fastest he has scored since. In between the two, he turned himself into one of the most cussed batsmen ever to play the game, a man who measured his innings out in hours and days, rather than runs and balls.

Chanderpaul turned himself into the great rearguard batsman, a man who never quits and never surrenders. Unsurprisingly, he has been not out more often than any other batsman in history. Some have said he is dull, others that he is selfish. But he has only been doing what he has to. He has, for instance, been involved in more run-outs than anyone in Test cricket, 25 altogether. And on 21 of those occasions, it’s been his partner who has had to walk off. No wonder. Chanderpaul has had to play that way, fuelled by the Boycott-like certainty that West Indies’ best chance is if he is at the wicket. He has scored more runs in lost matches than any other batsman.

The final years of Chanderpaul’s career have too often been characterised by what Wisden called the “yawning gap between his skill, commitment and experience” and that of his team-mates. After Lara quit, Chanderpaul took on the load. He’s been carrying it ever since, always unbowed, often undefeated. If – or rather when – he gets those final few runs and overtakes his old team-mate, it will be odd to see him there, top of the record lists, above the likes of Lara, Viv Richards, and Garry Sobers. But after all he has done, no one would begrudge him his place.