Saturday, September 13, 2008
PAUL BURROWES, Observer writer
The performance of Shivnarine Chanderpaul over the last two years in Test cricket has been extraordinary to say the least.
With batting averages of over 100 in 2007 and into this year, the 34-year-old Guyanese has copped cricket’s most distinguished awards – the ICC Player of the Year and the Wisden Cricketer of the Year, both for 2008.
No other years, since making his Test debut against England in March 1994, has Chanderpaul performed even nearly as well.
Since the retirement of Brian Lara from Test cricket in December 2006, Chanderpaul has stepped up his game – apparently determined to leave the game with the highest career batting average (30+ innings) by a West Indian as he plays at least until the age of 40. George Headley leads the batting average with 60.83 from 40 innings/22 Tests, followed by Everton Weekes (58.62 from 81 innings/48 Tests).
Chanderpaul got the Wisden award mostly from his exploits against England in 2007 when he cracked two centuries, including an unbeaten 136 in the fourth Test, and three half-centuries for an average 148.67. Though West Indies lost the four-Test series 3-0, Chanderpaul held his high when he topped the overall batting average and claimed a man of the match award in that fourth and final Test. England’s Kevin Pietersen was second in the overall batting average with 66.57.
In December 2007, Chanderpaul completed the year scoring 104 against South Africa at St George’s Park to push his batting average to 47.01.
During the ICC Year, from August 9, 2007-August 12, 2008, Chanderpaul hit three centuries and six half-centuries from 15 innings for a total 819 runs, including a highest 118, for a batting average of 91, surpassing all other batsmen in the world. He was named man of the match in the second Test against Australia in May of this year, hitting unbeaten scores of 107 and 77. Chanderpaul was also man of the match in the second One-Day International against Sri Lanka on April 12 this year at Queen’s Park, after an undefeated 52.
Ramnaresh Sarwan was the next West Indian Test batsman to Chanderpaul during that ICC year with a batting average of 58.60 from a total 586 runs, 10 innings, and a highest score of 128. Interestingly Xavier Marshall was third with a batting average of 45.50, ahead of the West Indian captain Chris Gayle, 36.11.
Ranked the number one Test player in the world, according to the Reliance Mobile ICC Player Rankings, Chanderpaul, who now has a batting overage of 49.09 and scored more than 8,000 runs from 112 Tests, cannot rest on his laurels as players such as Australian Andrew Symonds, Sri Lankan Thilan Samaraweera, India’s Virender Sehwag, and South African Graeme Smith are in the hunt to shine in new the ICC year.
In the upcoming Tests against New Zealand in December 2008 to January 2009 and England in February to April 2009, the reliable Chanderpaul will likely build on his averages and show rookie West Indians how to be disciplined in their craft. While West Indians deplore the state of their cricket, in Chanderpaul they will take a great deal of joy.
Source: Jamaica Observer