Chanderpaul changed to good effect

4:00AM Sunday Dec 21, 2008 | Mark Richardson

The moral of this story is that, if you are going to do something different, then do it well.

The last time the West Indies toured here Shivnarine Chanderpaul was in very poor form. He still had a formidable record behind him but he was right in the middle of a dire time, compounded by a less than impressive captaincy reign.

To make matters worse, he was forced to publicly defend his unorthodox batting style, which was predictably getting picked to pieces by all and sundry.

His open stance and shuffle across the crease had, by this stage, yielded him the majority of his 14 test centuries and impressive average of 46 but its deviation from convention meant all that was lost on critics.

Squared out, moving all over the shot, a mobile head, shuffling feet and no idea where off stump was, that was all the cricketing aficionado could see.

Three years on at the start of this current series, he had 1847 more runs, five more centuries (six now) and a batting average of in excess of 70 over the last three years – and that has changed perception somewhat.

Now the aficionado sees a stance that upsets bowlers, a technically correct position at the crucial time of bowler release, an effective game plan and unlimited concentration.

It takes tremendous strength of character to defy convention and then stick with your own interpretation of events when things are not going your way.

I’ve always believed the best coaches are the players you play with and against. One of the things I enjoyed the most about international cricket was being so close to some great players.

While you always wished to get the good ones out early, my competitive spirit did not stop me from enjoying watching great players construct their innings.

I would not advocate our developing batsmen start standing open and walking across the crease, but Chanderpaul is demonstrating the immense value of understanding one’s game and sticking to it.

This game is not about how you look and what potential you may have, it is about the numbers you post.

Chanderpaul began his career using a conventional stance that led to balance problems and so he made a change that would open him up physically – but also opened him up to criticism.

If anyone does criticise him, he can answer by handing them a note with his numbers on it.

Our batsmen have undeniable talent but the questions they must all answer for themselves are: Are my numbers good enough; is my technique the best it could be for me; and what changes both physically and mentally are required to lift my success?

Chanderpaul asked those questions of himself sometime ago and found the right answer – even if it’s an answer many others would have disagreed with.

Source: New Zealand Hearld

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