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Cricket World Rewind: #OnThisDay – Unconventional styled West Indian batsman Shivnarine Chanderpaul is born

Shivnarine Chanderpaul kneels down to kiss the ground after scoring a century against Australia in first test in Georgetown, Guyana April 10, 2003
Shivnarine Chanderpaul kneels down to kiss the ground after scoring a century against Australia in first test in Georgetown, Guyana April 10, 2003
©Reuters

August 16, 1974 - West Indian batsman Shivnarine Chanderpaul is born and, whenever batsmen with odd stances come into the game, or established players try idiosyncratic ways to succeed, like George Bailey did towards the end of his career, Chanderpaul's name will always serve as a glittering marker.

 

Shivnarine Chanderpaul may have remained under Brian Lara's shadow for the most of his career but when you sit down to compare their numbers, there isn't really much separating them.

In fact, as opposed to Brian Lara's tally of 131 test matches, Chanderpaul beat him on longevity, playing 164 tests. While Brian Lara made his test debut in 1990 and retired in 2006, Shivnarine Chanderpaul lasted from 1994 to 2015 - a significantly longer period.

Lara's test average of 52.8 is among the best in the world but Chanderpaul's average of 51.37 is not far behind. Chanderpaul's 30 test centuries are also comparable to Lara's 34 test tons. Their total runs in test cricket are also quite similar - Chanderpaul has 11,867 while Lara has 11,953.

While both Lara and Chanderpaul did not follow the copybook style of batting, Chanderpaul's technique was particularly out of this world. He showed world cricket the mirror by scoring heaps of runs with his homegrown technique.

When Shivnarine Chanderpaul made his debut against England in Georgetown in 1993-94, he became the first teenager to play test cricket for West Indies after Elquemedo Willett achieved the feat in 1972-73. When he first emerged on the scene, he was a slim batsman with a small frame, standing like the odd one out to the generally burly and strong West Indian cricketers. 

 

 

The other trouble during Chanderpaul's first few years in international cricket was that he scored only 2 hundreds in his first 53 test matches. It was not as if he did not belong or was getting overwhelmed by the big stage, but he just found it difficult to convert his starts into big ones, perhaps his health was an obstruction to that goal.

Once the batsman scored three centuries in four matches against India in 2006, he never looked back. In a three-year period between 2006 and 2009, Chanderpaul scored seven centuries, 14 half-centuries at an average of over 73 from 23 test matches.

He was appointed the West Indian captain in 2005 and celebrated the honour with a double century on captaincy debut. However, it became evident that the responsibility was affecting his batting as he quit the job next year to concentrate on his primary facet.

There was hardly a phase in Chanderpaul's career from there on when he did not churn out runs by the dozens. Chanderpaul reached the significant milestone of 10,000 test runs in his 148th test match against Australia in 2012. This was the year in which he averaged 91.7, scoring three hundreds and a double century, despite not getting enough support from the batsmen around him, as was the case for most of the second half of his career.

By the time he turned 40, form eluded him, as it happens even to the GOATs and Chanderpaul was unceremoniously dropped from the West Indies side. The legendary batsman announced his retirement from international cricket shortly after the snub. He played his last First-Class match for Lancashire against Surrey at The Oval in 2018.

Whenever batsmen with odd stances come into the game or established players try idiosyncratic ways to succeed, like George Bailey did towards the end of his career, Chanderpaul's name will always serve as a glittering marker.

 

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