The Chanderpaul Way
THE presence of West Indies captain Shivnarine Chanderpaul in Australia always sparks animated conversation along two lines. First, what the hell is going on with that splay-legged, front-on stance, in which he bears a remarkable resemblance to a crab? And second, what are those black sticker-things underneath his eyes?
The Australian cricketers are no less baffled than Extra Cover on the first point. "You're waiting for him to face up, and he already is," said Glenn McGrath after Chanderpaul grafted two runs before falling to Nathan Bracken's spectacular catch on Friday.
"Warney wanted to go out to square leg and bowl to him from there. It obviously works for Shiv. He's a class player and the position he gets himself in to play the ball, there's no problem there. But it's a little off-putting running in to bowl at someone standing front-on with the bat behind their shoulder."
Just as Chanderpaul developed the strange stance as a way of protecting his face when his father rallied the entire village of Unity to hurl balls at him from point-blank range when he was young, the stickers beneath his eyes are an attempt on the batsman's part to gain a tiny advantage.
Contrary to assumptions, the stickers are not a novel way of promoting a sponsor. West Indies media manager Imran Khan, not to be confused with the great Pakistan all-rounder, explained last week that Chanderpaul simply bought the anti-glare stickers at the supermarket.
They are regularly used by American gridiron players, and if you get close enough, you can see they are made by a company called Mueller. Khan said the writing on the black stickers was small enough that they had never attracted the attention of the International Cricket Council, which in recent months has cracked down on excessive advertising on bats.
So Chanderpaul's unique method of cutting out the glare should not be seen as open slather for players prepared to scrawl the name of their sponsors all over their bodies.