Shivnarine Chanderpaul - Digicel Cricketer No. 40
Shiv Chanderpaul is a dependable and durable left-handed middle-order batsman who has so far proudly represented the West Indies in 129 Test matches and 261 One Day Internationals in a distinguished career which commenced in 1994. His early years were spent training under the guidance of his father and other close relatives and soon he was turning out for the East Coast Police, then the Everest and Demerara Cricket Clubs before he finally settled at the world-famous Georgetown Cricket Club.
A player with an ungainly stance and sometimes a ‘crablike’ approach to batting, it was evident from the outset that he possessed great powers of concentration, was willing to play within his limitations and placed a high premium on his wicket. He dominated at the regional youth level in 1992-93 constructing two centuries and averaging 77.14 per innings over ten matches. Then, elevated to the Young West Indies side to England he promptly struck a magnificent unbeaten 203 in the first ‘Test’ at Trent Bridge and ended the three-match series with a hefty average of 124.00 per innings.
As a teenager, Chanders made his first-class debut for Guyana against the Leeward Islands at Bourda in the 1992 Red Stripe Cup competition defying the opposition with a composed 90 and the following season he registered his maiden first-class hundred (140) for the West Indies President’s XI against the touring Pakistanis.
When England visited the Caribbean in 1994, the selectors played a master-stroke by including him in the side for the injured Carl Hooper to contest the second Test of the series on his home ground, Bourda - still five months short of his twentieth birthday. The debutant batted at number six and proceeded to compile a compact half-century (62) on the heels of Brian Lara’s 167 and Jimmy Adams’ 137 as the hosts won massively by an innings and 44 runs.
He had an excellent series, recording four half-centuries in six innings at 57.60 per knock with his final innings of 75 not out made in partnership with Lara in Antigua when the batting maestro entered the record books with his enthralling 375. Yet, between the St John’s game and New Zealand’s tour of the West Indies in April, 1996, the craftsman found himself in and out of the team and in fact did not feature at all during the Aussies visit to the region in 1995.
He came of age ‘Down Under’ in 1996 when he was elevated to the pivotal number three position replacing Lara who was having problems against Glen McGrath. The off-shot was a trio of half-centuries including a truly brilliant 68-ball 71 in Sydney before he was conquered by an outrageous delivery by Shane Warne. Chanderpaul’s problem after 18 Tests was his inability to convert any of his 13 fifties into centuries but he finally broke the jinx in the 1997 West Indies-India Barbados Test when he batted for seven and a half hours in fashioning an unbeaten 137.
Since then he has compiled another 21 hundreds including his top-score of an undefeated 203 against the South Africans at Bourda in 2005 in his first of 14 Tests as captain. He currently lies fourth on the West Indian list of century-makers only behind Lara (34), Garry Sobers (26) and Viv Richards (24). His 9 063 Test runs is placed second on the regional list with Lara’s 11, 912 heading the table.
Chanders can change gears as his 69-ball Test century against the Aussies at Bourda in 2003 attests and in the One Day arena he has played an integral part in the West Indies fortunes since he contested his first shortened-version of the game against India in 1997. To date he has chalked up some 11 ODI hundreds and has aggregated 8 648 runs and in the process he has produced several remarkable batting displays.
His highest One Day score of 150 during a splendid partnership with Carl Hooper in East London on the ill-fated 1998-99 tour of South Africa; his 96-ball 84 (after using up 47 deliveries over his first 12 runs) against England at Bourda in 2004 in a 30-over clash; and his ten off the last two deliveries (4, 6) off Sri Lanka’s ChamindaVaas in Trinidad in 2008 which carried West Indies to a thrilling final-ball one wicket win are all testimony to his versatile skills.
One of the highlights of his career to date is no doubt his sublime record-breaking innings of 303 not out against Jamaica at Sabina Park in the 1994 regional Red Stripe competition and he continues to churn out runs consistently in the various West Indies Cricket Board tournaments.
He has had successful stints with Durham and Lancashire in the English County Championships and in 2008 he was elected as a Wisden Cricketer-of-the-Year and the ICC Player-of-the-Year after a prolonged series of outstanding performances.
At age 36, Chanderpaul is nearing the end of an illustrious tenure at the summit of West Indian cricket and his exploits are living proof of what dedication and commitment to a given cause can achieve.
TESTS 129: RUNS 9 063: AVG 48.98: HS 203* vs South Africa, Bourda, 2005
ODIs 261: RUNS 8 648: AVG 41.77: HS 150 vs South Africa, East London, 1998-99