He’s got more than his fair share of elbows and knees, but that hasn’t prevented him being given the highest honour in international cricket; the award that the players most respect and yearn for. This year’s Lord Megachief of Gold is Shivnarine Chanderpaul.
England might have spent most of winter watching Kumar Sangakkara and Mahela Jayawardene do their thing, but every match they played against West Indies revolved around this man.
Chanderpaul started the year with 149 not out off 137 balls against India and pretty much took it from there. He averaged 76 in one-day internationals in 2007, hitting four unbeaten hundreds in 20 matches, but it was Test cricket where we spent most time watching him.
The West Indies played England this year and lost 3-0, but that was no fault of Shiv’s. His five innings in the series were 74, 50, 116 not out, 136 not out and 70. In the other Test he’s played this year, against South Africa, he hit 104 and, disappointingly, eight.
We saw that 116 not out at Old Trafford. Much of it was made on a fifth day pitch and in the company of tail-enders and it was an absolute masterpiece. A real, genuine, stand-the-test-of-time, against-the-odds masterpiece. It wasn’t first-day domination on a flat pitch, punishing the bowlers. It was an innings where the conditions, the bowling and the match situation were against him.
When the West Indies lost their last wicket, Shiv shook his head in disappointment. Never mind that he’d played a superlative innings, it was worthless to him. All he’d wanted was to succeed in what would have been a world record run-chase.
Shivnarine Chanderpaul’s the perfect example as to why you shouldn’t think of batsmen as solely one-day players or solely Test players until you’ve seen them in both formats.
If the first time you saw him was in a one-day international, playing the ball over the top and squirting it into ‘unusual areas’, you’d think he’d never make a Test player. You’d say his ‘technique’ was no such thing.
Conversely, if the first time you saw him was in a Test, as he batted for ten hours scoring about one run an over, you’d say he didn’t have the range of shots or the speed of scoring to warrant a place in a one-day side. Just goes to show that the best batsmen are adaptable.
It also shows that sidling around the crease like the Artful Dodger with rickets is no barrier to success.