Humble beginnings to top of the world

Geoff Longley Windies tour – The Press | Friday, 05 December 2008

The beleaguered Black Caps need not look far for batting inspiration. Cricketer of the year Shivnarine Chanderpaul is in the West Indies line-up for the forthcoming two-test series starting in Dunedin on Thursday.

Chanderpaul headed such batting luminaries as Sachin Tendulkar, Rahul Dravid, Ricky Ponting, Graeme Smith and Mahela Jayawardene for the award in September based on his form over the past year.

The little left-hander from Guyana played eight tests and scored 819 runs at an average of 91, including three centuries and six 50s all of which were against the top seven teams in the world.

Go back to last June and his last 11 tests have yielded 1265 runs at a better-than-Bradman 105.41.

Chuck in 598 runs from 13 one-day internationals during that time, an average 74.75 which makes him the world No.1 ranked test batsman in the world and he is now No.4 in the one-day arena.

Yet Chanderpaul is not your sublime stroke-maker unfurling breathtaking boundary shots from ball one.

He is an unfashionable grafter right from his square-on stance to crabbing his way across the crease during delivery with a backlift that emerges somewhere from third man.

Chanderpaul has crunched his game down, plays the percentages and the runs come proving that a considerable part of the game is not technical but mental. Chanderpaul succeeds because of an iron will and confidence in his own ability which his Black Caps counterparts could do well to emulate.

ICC president David Morgan praised Chanderpaul, when making the award, for being the rock on which the West Indies batting has been founded.

“He epitomises the sort of dedication, bravery and skills required to excel at the highest level.”

Chanderpaul collected the Sir Garfield Sobers Trophy for his cricketer of the year title yet again he is the cricketing antithesis of his fellow West Indian who was a dashing all-rounder.

However, Chanderpaul, 34, is poised to overtake a Sobers batting record on the tour of New Zealand having just topped 8000 test runs. Sobers scored 8032 while Viv Richards (8450) is within range leaving just Brian Lara (11,953) in the distance.

Chanderpaul came from humble beginnings in the fishing village of Unity on Guyana’s east coast where there was just basic equipment to begin his career.

Nowadays he lives in Florida but he does not ignore the basics just because he is living a more lavish lifestyle. He has a bowling machine installed in his house to keep working on his skills.

He first came into the West Indies team in 1994 when it was still star-studded with Lara, Desmond Haynes, Richie Richardson, Curtly Ambrose and Courtney Walsh.

They have gone and Chanderpaul often found himself fighting single-handed causes to hold the brittle West Indies batting together.

His career has had several highs, albeit most in the shadow of Lara including adding 219 with the other little left-hander when Lara broke the world record of 375 in Antigua.

Then he made 104 when West Indies produced cricket’s highest successful run chase making 418 to beat Australia five years ago.

Despite often being limited to dabs and deflections at the crease, Chanderpaul can climb into the bowling having made the test world’s fourth fastest century off just 69 balls on his home ground, Georgetown, against Australia.

Chanderpaul also had a period as captain. He led the team that toured New Zealand in 2005-06 and was beaten in the test series 2-0.

He seemed uncomfortable in the role, living in Lara’s shadow, and it came during a period of upheaval between the players and administrators.

It was no surprise that he resigned after that tour and has returned to what he does best, churning out runs.

Source: The Press

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