A Stitch In Time
Muhammed Ali once said, “it's lack of faith that makes people afraid of meeting challenges, and I believed in myself.”
With all that has taken place during the past three months, Shivnarine Chanderpaul could have simply buckled under the pressure, backed away from the challenges and add fuel to the West Indies Cricket Board’s speculations that his days in the game are numbered.
Instead, he conjured a masterpiece to welcome Windsor Park to the family of Test playing venues; guided a debutant to a hundred; handed the Caribbean side a hard-earned draw against the top cricketing nation; and resurrected his career.
Surely, Chanderpaul’s 116 not out, his 23rd Test century in a West Indian record 133rd Test match, was his most important at a time when the WICB viewed his career as heading downhill.
Timing was of essence. Great sportsmen usually thrive when they are forced against the wall; they confront the challenges and more often than not, the product separates the ordinary from the extraordinary. Such was the case in Roseau, Dominica, where Chanderpaul survived a stern test of character, displayed tremendous self belief, grit and determination to move his highly successful career from the corridor of uncertainty it found itself of recent to more sure footing.
At the conclusion of the Cricket World Cup in Asia, coach Ottis Gibson said the senior players were to be blamed for the team’s ‘poor’ performance. Chanderpaul, Ramnaresh Sarwan, and Chris Gayle immediately came under the microscope. While Gayle has not played in the maroons since, Sarwan was give a few opportunities, but was dropped after consistent failures in the first two Tests against India.
Chanderpaul, who was allegedly asked to retire from ODIs, has not represented the Windies in that format since the World Cup, but was included in the Test squad for the series against Pakistan and India. Before that tremendous knock in the final Test against India on Sunday, the ‘Tiger’ was enduring a lean spell by his standard. Although he spent valuable time at the crease, a topscore of 37 in seven innings after the World Cup was indicative of a dip in form and maybe the consequences of having to deal with the off-field ramblings.
In the seven knocks before Dominica, Chanderpaul had accumulated 188 runs at an average of 31.33 from 620 deliveries. That works out to 188 runs from 103.2 overs of batting. Occupation at the crease, yes! Production, way below what you’d come to expect.
The door was ajar, his career in jeopardy! But as the idiom goes ‘a stitch in time saves nine.’ After grafting for 343 deliveries and 501 minutes, the former West Indies captain dispelled all doubts that Gibson and the hierarchy of the WICB had fabricated.
Chanderpaul could not have chosen a better platform to redeem himself- by guiding his team to safety, he also revived his career and silenced the critics in emphatic fashion.