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Chanderpaul’s Quest

By: Ray Sundar

July 16th, 2008
The fateful journey began at Bourda, Guyana on March 17, 1994. 19 years old phenom Shivnarine Chanderpaul, of Unity Village (home to President Bharat Jagdeo and former fast bowler Colin Croft), made an impressive debut of “wristy elegance” against the Poms, scoring 62, dispatching 9 x 4’s to all parts of the boundary. All done under the watchful eyes of coach Rohan Kanhai.

Debilitating injuries notwithstanding, THE SHIV should score the requisite 87 runs to eclipse Clive Lloyd’s record, thus becoming Guyana’s top accumulator of test runs at an average hovering around 47. Yes, folks, at 7429 test runs, he has already surpassed Kanhai’s 6227, Hooper’s 5762, Kalicharran’s 4399 and Butcher’s 3104. Lloyd’s 7515 is next! This should be accomplished in the 1st test against Sri Lanka at Providence, Guyana. Seems like déjà vu, returning to the scene where it started.

Attaining this will ensure permanent residency in the rarefied air atop the pantheon of Guyana’s cricket stars.

Though West Indies’ next two opponents are Murali’s Sri Lankans and the big, bad, bold, brawling, snarling and sledging Ponting led Aussies, THE SHIV should leapfrog Haynes (7481), Greenidge (7558) and, perhaps, Sobers (8032) to land at the # 3 spot (W.I. test aggregate).

By the summer of 2009 barring any adverse political shenanigans, THE SHIV will overtake Richards’ 8540 and land comfortably in the #2 spot in the West Indies hierarchy. Just Lara ahead! Ah! But at an asking price of 11953 runs. That’s tantamount to scaling Mt. Everest’s highest peak – about 5.53 miles. Probably Sir Edmund Hillary could have helped…he died on January 11, 2008. From my vantage point only one player will exceed this – Tendulkar, contingent upon him staying healthy. Ponting may do it but too many chinks in his armor are manifesting themselves. And he has got to stop being Bhaggi’s bunny.

Lest this accomplishment is lost in a longevity mumbo jumbo, let’s be crystal clear – his total is not a function of longevity exclusivity. Except for Sobers, his number of tests compare favourably with the others mentioned above.

It is truly refreshing to see Trinidad’s Fazeer Mohammed, a writer, grudgingly puts on his objective lens and gives THE SHIV his just due, rather than continue to impugn his character! Here is to hoping he subscribes to judicious editing and curbs his appetite to slam THE SHIV.

Mohammed is fond of berating THE SHIV’s crablike stance. Now whether or not his batting is grace personified, Leonardo Da Vinci’s artistic mastery on canvas, or Laxman’s subdued elegance, is completely irrelevant. What matters most, especially to an anemic and spineless batting line-up prone to sudden and frequent collapse, is his unique ability to adapt to any situation – mixing caution with unbridled aggression. This allows him to go on his merry way, getting the job done. Embodying West Indies need to fight seems to be his mantra. Clearly he has evolved into W.I. immovable object.

I daresay THE SHIV has been, and continues to be, the best West Indian batsman over the past 5 years. And this includes the mercurial Lara whose sporadic outbursts have thrilled and entertained and the current not so young turks – Sarwan and Gayle. His impregnable defense, much to the chagrin of opponents, results in bowlers toiling endlessly without much reward.

THE SHIV, whether or not by design, intentional or not, has become the epicenter of West Indies batting. His century in the 1st test against South Africa recently played a pivotal role in West Indies’ lone win on foreign soil in quite some time. Of all active test batsmen he is in the top 10 in test aggregate, average and centuries.

Alas! The time is at hand. THE SHIV has a marvelous opportunity, 14 years later, to end the quest in front of his home crowd. One could feel the sheer anticipation of his legion of fans building.

When this skinny lad, whose helmet and pads seemed too big, burst on the scene in 1994, did you think he would reach this exalted stage? C’mon!

P.S. 1. All statistics are from CRICINFO.
2. Part I of IV – appeared in Cricketstar

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