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Chanderpaul, the unsung hero


Shivnarine_Chanderpaul_West_Indies_cricketYou respect Lara for the flair, Gayle for the destructive abilities and value Hooper for the sense of calm he brought to the crease. 

But while Sir Viv and Lloyd stand unanimously amongst the pantheons of cricketing greats, what place does Chanderpaul hold in your books?

While none can deny the powerhouse of bowling talents pummeled by Viv (8,500 plus Test runs) and Lloyd (7,500 plus runs), Chanderpaul not only collected over 11,800 runs, he scored them with an average of 51. 

How does that make his fans feel? 

In fact, what must the man make of his own accomplishments, given that – to this very day – he seems to linger in the shadows of Lara’s genius?

The Lara-factor was so firmly etched in the Guyanese southpaw’s life that even on Chanders’ debut Test against England, where he made a fine 62, it was the Prince of Port of Spain’s fiery 167 off 210 that denied Chanderpaul the Player of the Match Award. It was 1994 then. 

But thankfully for Chanderpaul – who collected over 5,100 Test runs since Lara’s retirement (circa 2006) – his immensely undervalued career ended on a hurrah as West Indies, buoyed by a Bravo/Blackwood special, defeated England by five wickets in May, 2015. 

As Chanderpaul lost his stumps to Anderson for naught in the second innings, the same timbers he had guarded with unrelenting focus for 21 years, West Indian cricket lost its protector. 


Cricket, it must be said, isn’t merely about records and accomplishments. It is also about passing the baton from one able guardian to another. When Sobers went, the era of Lloyd came about. When Lloyd’s era ended, Walsh’s era came about. 


But in West Indies, a side currently languishing nearly at the bottom of ICC rankings (except in T20s, where they are languishing in the middle), with Lara and Shiv both gone, Holder’s men are still to identify the next keeper of their flame. 

So where’s the next Chanderpaul in making? 

Could Roston Chase, with some wonderful Test knocks under his belt, especially against Kohli’s India and a seemingly reinvigorated Pakistan hold the answer? Perhaps. Perhaps it is too early to tell.

And perhaps it might be a mistake to suggest that there could ever actually be another Shivnarine Chanderpaul.

For a man of 43 to be going as strong as ever in County Cricket, where he flicks Mark Footitt off the front pad just as he gently nudged Abdur Razzaq to the covers in that mesmerizing & unbeaten 153 in 2005, it is evident that it wasn’t always Lara who won a game for the West Indies.

In one of their most memorable wins on home soil, one of the few against Pakistan in a decade, Chanderpaul stood like a rock between a habitually faltering Windies and a venomous though unpredictable Pakistan.

The Barbados sun was shining bright on a hot May afternoon with Windies taking on a Pakistan powered by Afridi, Butt, Razzaq and Kaneria. Lara had already bludgeoned a 130 in the first innings and Fidel Edwards, one of West Indies cricket’s many ignored players, had jolted the tourists with a 5-fer.


But, in their second innings, West Indies, despite leading their opponents with a 200 run lead found themselves wanting with Lara dismissed for 48. The score? 137 for 4. 
In walked Chanderpaul to ensure the Pakistani bowlers would toil under the unrelenting Barbadian heat. 


In his vital, marathon knock of 153 off 254 balls, the Guyanese soldier finished undismissed, following up on his first innings’s score of 92. 

In leading his side to a memorable 276 run victory, nowadays a score one hardly sees West Indian side reach in either innings of a 5-day contest, Chanderpaul reminded just how valuable he was to his side which so often belittled his presence

It must, therefore, be asked if cricket is only about grandiose batting records and big heaves or about the substance that serves as base on which a team’s total rests?

So while Gayle, who has not one but 2 Test triple centuries to his name, rises as the toast of T20 cricket, but can’t always negotiate the rising, incoming delivery, shouldn’t we be rethinking about Chanderpaul, whose ‘crab-like’ technique ensured Windies were saved from many Test humiliations, both on home soil and overseas?

Have you seen Chanderpaul’s record versus Team India?

Not even Brian Charles Lara managed the feat that Chanderpaul, garnered against a side whom the ‘God’ of cricket lifted on his shoulders and a ‘Wall’ defended with great pride. 

In contrast to Lara’s 1,002 Test runs against India at a lowly average of 34, Chanderpaul was the real thorn in India’s hopes of suppressing an ailing side. Striking 7 of his 30 Test hundreds, Chanderpaul plundered 2,171 runs against the likes of Kumble, Srinath, Prasad, Zaheer and RP Singh, at an average in the lofty realms of the 60s. 

The game, often in anointing a true place to blokes like Chanderpaul, comes to a halt with the classic ‘unsung hero’ tag.

But was Chanderpaul, the scorer of 8,700 ODI runs and also the accumulator of the 3rd fastest Test ton- that classic hundred against Australia off just 69 deliveries- just an unsung hero? Or was he much more valuable than that, to his country and to cricket?


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