September 16, 2008
By BABU KALYANPUR
The world has finally saluted a quiet, unassuming cricketer who has gone about his business solidly for over a decade.
Shivnaraine Chanderpaul deservedly won cricket’s Oscar for best player. The International Cricket Council’s Player of the Year award acknowledges a phenomenal run by the West Indian left-hander in both Tests and one-day cricket.
Statistics bear that out. For the period starting August 9, 2007 to August 12 this year, Chanderpaul scored 819 runs in eight Tests at an average of 91 and 598 runs in 13 one-dayers at an average of 74.75.
These figures vindicate the fact that Chanderpaul is one of the best batsmen in the world and has been for most parts of his career.
But statistics alone don’t tell the full story. Chanderpaul’s contributions have to be measured against the backdrop of the team he plays for.
The West Indies have been languishing at the lower rung of cricket’s ladder for over a decade now. And Chanderpaul has been propping up the fragile and unsettled middle order for years.
As in all walks of life, it is usually the ‘glamour boy’ who grabs the spotlight. Chanderpaul’s dour personality may have played a part in not winning him the recognition which he fully deserves.
Spectators will not leave the bar or drop what they are doing just to watch Chanderpaul. His open chested stance and crablike movements are unattractive.
That does not matter because Chanderpaul can play every shot in the book. He can change the pace of his innings too to suit the situation and has one of the fastest Test centuries against his name.
This year, he hit 10 runs, a four and a six, off the last two balls to take West Indies to a sensational win against Sri Lanka.
Now, after Brian Lara’s retirement, Chanderpaul has emerged as the premier batsman for the West Indies. At 34, he still has a few years left in him.
Dale Steyn crowned a tremendous year by becoming the Test Player of the Year. Not since Allan Donald has any bowler proved so deadly for South Africa.
With Shaun Pollock fading away into retirement, Steyn took on the mantle of first choice bowler and delivered with furious pace and accuracy.
Mahendra Singh Dhoni is going through a wonderful spell as captain, wicketkeeper and batsman for India. The flashy strokemaker of yore has taken a more calculated approach to batting and this has paid off dividends so much so that he can bat anywhere in the order now.
Compatriot Yuvraj Singh should use the Best Twenty20 Player award as an incentive to boost his sagging fortunes at the top level. The left-hander is simply wasting his talent by not putting in enough hard work and allegedly living it up in the fast lane.
Ajantha Mendis has shaken up the world of cricket with his mystery bowling. He has already emerged as a top-ranking performer.
Nobody can grudge Simon Taufel the best umpire award. In this day of third umpires, blood-curdling appeals and major dramatics, Taufel stands out with his fair and often accurate decisions.
Source: Gulf Weekly
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