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Shiv on course to create ‘age’ history

Published: 
Sunday, August 17, 2014

GEORGETOWN—Shivnarine Chanderpaul is likely to become the ninth West Indies over-40 player to participate in a Test match if he plays against Bangladesh in the two Test series next month. The indomitable left-hander, who has played more Test matches than any other West Indian, turned 40 yesterday.

Barbadian Gordon Greenidge was the last over-40 to play a Test match when he played against Australia in Antigua in April 1991, while George Headley, who played against England in his native Jamaica in January 1954, was the oldest at 44. The only person from the Caribbean to play over 150 Tests and the second West Indian after Brian Lara to reach 11,000 Test runs, that fighting quality and value for his wicket is still the hallmark of Chanderpaul’s stellar career.

The Guyana-run machine has played for West Indies, Derbyshire, Durham, Guyana, Khulna Royal Bengals, Lancashire, Royal Challengers Bangalore, Stanford Superstars, Uva Next, Warwickshire and Warwickshire 2nd XI during his illustrious career, which began in 1991 when he first played for Guyana at the under-19 level. The son of a fisherman and father of Guyana national Under-19 opener Tagenarine Chanderpaul, “Tiger” has an amazing average of over 50, not the easiest thing to achieve when you have played so many Tests. His record 46 not outs have in some measure contributed to him sustaining such a healthy average for so long but the fact is, his 29 centuries and 62 fifties in Tests make him one of the most successful batsmen of all time. His latest “ton” puts him level with the great Sir Donald Bradman, and only behind Lara’s 34 on the list of West Indians.

As he celebrates his birthday, he will tell you they say life begins at 40 and the dogged Guyanese is still as fit as most present players in regional cricket and like good wine seems to be getting better with age. His 14,414 is testimony to his determination to continue playing at the highest level for so long. And with former West Indies captain Clive Lloyd, who played his last Test against Australia at Sydney in December 1984 at 40, being appointed as chairman of WICB selectors, he will know that age is just a number and allow Chanderpaul to retire when he wants to, providing that he is make a meaningful contribution to the team.

Chanderpaul could join CA Wiles who played against England in Manchester in July 1933 at 40, fellow Guyanese LR Gibbs, who played against Australia at Melbourne in January 1976 at 41 and N Betancourt, who played against England in Port of Spain in February 1930 at 42. Wilfred Rhodes was the oldest man to play Test cricket. He was 52 years, 165 days when he represented England in West Indies in 1929–30.