When we talk of the greats who have ever played test cricket, names such as Bradman, Tendulkar, Lara, Sobers, Viv Richards, Kallis, Dravid, Border, Gavaskar, Ponting, etc sound very familiar. Also many mention the likes of Hayden, Taylor, Langer, Sehwag, Laxman, Mohammed Yusuf, Inzamam ul Haq, Javed Miandad, Sangakkara, Jayawardhene, Gooch, Boycott, Gower, etc as players who made a great impact on test level. Modern day greats would be Sangakkara, Cook, Clarke, Pietersen, Smith, AB de Villiers, Amla, Hussey and many more (everyone is free to mention any name which I missed out or even rather disagree). Though its funny that a player with a total of 10,897 test runs is not in any of those lists. Yes, many of you would disagree with the names I mentioned, but lets face it, these are the names which we all come across most often when we are discussing test cricket. Shivnarine Chanderpaul, the 8th highest run-scores in test matches, strangely finds no place in any of those lists. That’s exactly how his career has been. Growing under the shadows of the great Brain Lara, this uncanny southpaw is now on the verge of greatness himself. While all the eyes will be on Sachin Tendulkar who will be playing his 200th and last test match on Thursday, Shivnarine Chanderpaul will become the first West Indian to play 150 test matches. As West Indies head coach Ottis Gibson says, Chanderpaul is already a legend in the West Indies dressing room.
Having made his debut 1994, Chanderpaul has already been around for more than 19 years. If compared, this is more than the likes of Sourav Ganguly and Rahul Dravid andRicky Ponting and even Brian Lara. Now many may say that Chanderpaul has just lasted long, something which even a certain Shahid Afridi has. But 10,897 runs at an average of 51.89 with 28 tons is magnificent. Just look at those numbers and you’ll realise that Chanderpaul would be called as one of the most prolific batsman to play test cricket. At 39 years of age, Chanderpaul is just 1 year younger than Sachin. But Chanderpaul is like that old wine, getting better with age. Since 2007, Chanderpaul has averaged 70.52 in 48 tests, more than any of the 78 batsmen who have scored in excess of 1000 test runs in that period. Now the period post 2007 includes the significant rise of Hashim Amla, de Villiers, Cook and Clarke, and great run-scoring sprees of Tendulkar, Kallis, Dravid and Sangakkara. Yet its Chanderpaul who has beaten all these fancy heavyweights fair and square and scored most consistently. Now with no offence meant, West Indies has really struggled in this century. They have been the underdogs in most of the matches they have played. And we all know how difficult it is to score runs when your team is being dominated by almost all other teams. Chanderpaul has been that lone warrior for West Indies since the retirement of Brian Lara. Post 2007, Chanderpaul ha scored 4161 runs, while the second best is a distant Chris Gayle scoring only 2628 runs at an average of 49.58. Chanderpaul has been the lone warrior for West Indies in these dismal times. If he continues to play as he has been, he will soon overtake Lara as the highest run scorer in tests for West Indies. He already has test average better than the likes of Ponting, Border, Steve Waugh, Gavaskar and even Viv Richards. And I think I can afford to say that Chanderpaul has had the weakest team of all these gentlemen, and has scored his runs in more trying circumstances. Yet, I’m sure this great player will retire from international cricket without raising many eyebrows, and will soon no longer be a part of anyone’s talks. Some players just get lost down the history lane, but their contribution remains immortal. Shivnarine Chanderpaul, I admire you for your perseverance, hard work, work ethic and discipline. You’re a legend for me !