“Whoever took his life has to pay and they will pay very soon.”
Those were the words of a man said to be like a grandfather to nine-year-old Cyon Paul during his funeral yesterday.
After 21 years (1994-2015) of soldiering for West Indies cricket, Shivnarine Chanderpaul has called time on his international career.
Throughout his career, Chanderpaul wore the maroon West Indies cap with great pride, intent and purpose. There was never an inkling of questioning his commitment to West Indies cricket. In the post Brian Lara period, he stood tall and firm becoming the bedrock of the batting. He had a high price on his wicket from his first test innings of 62 against England in 1994 in his homeland of Guyana to the end of his career.
His test and ODI records are rather impressive. He played 164 test matches, scored 11 867 runs at an average of 51.37 with 96 scores over 50- 66 fifty’s and 30 hundreds. His highest score was 203 not out achieved twice: first against South Africa in 2005 in Guyana and then against Bangladesh in 2012 in Bangladesh. He finished his test career second in aggregate runs for all West Indies batsmen behind Brian Lara’s 11 953.
He played 268 ODI matches, scored 8778 runs with an average of 41.60. He had 70 scores over 50 (59 fifty’s and 11 hundreds). His highest score was 150 against South Africa in 1999 in South Africa.
His overall first class record speaks volume of a player who strived to be the best that he could have been. Unless he continues playing, his overall first class record would read, 349 matches, 25 399 runs, with a highest score 303 not out and an average of 54.38. He had 204 scores over 50 (133 fifty’s and 71 centuries). He holds the regional record for the highest score of 303 not out against Jamaica.
Chanderpaul will be remembered as the WI batsman with the most awkward and fidgety batting stance yet still very obdurate and tenacious in demonstrating great powers of unflappable concentration. He may not have possessed the elegance and finesse of Gordon Greenidge, Vivian Richards, Carl Hooper or Lara, but he was always prepared to play within his limitations and doggedly grind opposition bowlers to the ground. There would have been times when his unyielding style would have had crowds murmuring for him to step on the runs accelerator. But that was Shiv Chanderpaul style whether it was liked or not.
However, Chanderpaul will also be remembered for some pulsating aggressive un-characteristic innings. The two innings that stand out. In 1996, on a turning track in Sydney, Chanderpaul launched a blistering assault on Shane Warne while scoring 71 off 68 balls with 10 fours. In 2003, Chanderpaul scored 100 of 69 balls against the likes of McGrath and Warne. At the time it was the third fastest test century.
In 1994, Chanderpaul was 75 not out in a 5th wicket partnership of 219 runs with Brian Lara who scored 375 and broke Sir Garfield Sobers 36 year old highest test score of 365 not out. In 2003 in Antigua, Chanderpaul scored 104 against Australia as West Indies established a new world record for scoring 418 runs to win the test match.
In 2008 Chanderpaul was recognised for his outstanding consistent performances when he was voted one of the Five Wisden Cricketers of the Year and he was also named the ICC Cricketer of the Year in 2008.
The end of Chanderpaul’s career also signals the last of the 20th century players to represent the West Indies. He entered the team in the pre-hyper commercialised period where test cricket was the main focus and the major economic distraction was breakdown of negotiations between the WICB and players. After 21 years, the relationship between the WICB and the players continue to be fractious. Additionally, WI cricket continues to slide downwards in test and ODIs. However, the hope of revivalism resides with the T20 format.
It can be argued that Chanderpaul was the last of the West Indies players who was able to demonstrate his skills and ability optimally and consistently over the duration of his career as exemplified by his final statistics. In the post Lara-Chanderpaul period the challenge has to be taken up by players such as Kraigg Braithwaite and Darren Bravo to continue the tradition of great WI batsmanship. They have to stamp their authority which can go a long way toward developing other test batsmen.
Congratulations and thank you Shivnarine ‘Tiger’ Chanderpaul for upholding the great tradition of West Indian batsmanship.