Champion West Indian batsman Shivnarine Chanderpaul has been through some hard times with the Caribbean side, but he enjoyed having some of the pressure taken from him during the first Test against New Zealand in Dunedin.
The patient Chanderpaul has often been the bulwark of his side’s batting, a player whose defensive technique is as good as any in the game and who has concentration powers to shut down scoring mode sufficiently should survival be more important for his side.
In these days of dash and bash it is an old-fashioned concept but one that still has merit in the longer version of the game.
But the emergence of a new weapon in the West Indian batting in Dunedin delighted him.
Jerome Taylor offered his side greater depth in its tail when he came out and hit a maiden century, let alone a Test century in the cool of the University Oval.
Chanderpaul was in no doubt about its worth.
“Jerome Taylor came out and played a fantastic innings, it was a joy to watch from the other end. It’s a shame he didn’t bat a little longer. It was his day,” he said.
“It was unbelievable, I was standing there enjoying it and trying to help him go on and keep going when he passed a hundred.”
However, the man who led the side on their last, unsuccessful, tour of New Zealand has become one of the most consistent batsmen in the world game with an average of over 100 for the calendar year.
“I’ve been doing a lot of focus on my batting, a lot of work in the nets, mentally preparing myself for the games, watching television and videos of the bowlers and getting yourself organised properly,” he said, adding that no longer having to captain the side mean he could relax and focus on the game.
“You keep putting in the hard work every day, you work on your problems, the things that are bothering you and also your strengths and try to improve in every area you can.
“You can’t focus too much on the past or future, you have to take it one game at a time and deal with the present and the process,” he said.
“I just clear my head and just go out and try to get focused on the job in front of me.”
Chanderpaul explained one potentially different reason for his recent success was that he put a good deal of time into working on his balance.
He’s also moved past an iconic West Indian Sir Gary Sobers on the all-time Test run-scoring list and has Sir Vivian Richards’ record in his sights.
“It’s an honour to be up there with Sir Gary – he’s a great batter the world has known, batting in that time he set a world record, the milestones.
“It took a long time for anyone else except Brian to pass him, now that I’ve slid past – it’s a milestone he set for all West Indians.”
While he hadn’t played as many Tests as Chanderpaul he was regarded as a player with a great record.
“He’s a great cricketer to pass. We all admire him and picture ourselves to be one day like him.
“As young fellas you heard the name, you see him and you want to be like him. It’s an honour to actually be up there,” he said.