What can you say about the man?
His eyes are as focused as a swami, his body movements as graceful as a sinewy crab, his back lift is as high as a worn-out speed breaker on a Mumbai road, he does not play in the IPL, he has been involved in 23 run outs in Tests and has only been run out himself three times, he carries the entire Windies team on his India-descended shoulders, he is the best Test batsman playing today, he chips out his batting guard with a bat-pounded bail, he hardly speaks, and he is Shiv Chanderpaul, the hero of the hour – hour after hour – and he just scored 87 not out batting at number five from a total of 243.
He glides the ball off his bat, either to third man or fine-square leg with the precision of a fledgling mathematician; his cover drive, compared to Ganguly’s of yore, is as flamboyant as a traffic signal at a pedestrian crossing… suddenly he pulls for two fours, and the ferocity is as unexpected as thunder on a sunny afternoon.
His stance at the crease looks as if he is about to keel over – he leans on his bat the way an old lady leans on her umbrella – then he shuffles across as the bowler pounds in, and he looks as vulnerable as a clay pigeon awaiting shotgun pellets. But, as the great Michael Holding points out – (by the way, listen to what this man has to say about the Windies board and IPL and Jerome Taylor and the future of young Windies cricketers) – Chanderpaul is almost side on when the ball is actually delivered. Then he will play down the original line of the ball, with a wondrous waft, as the red sphere swings to the left or right – even the Dravid of his best years could not leave a ball with such unique class.
A nudge, a thump, a push, a shove, a sudden pull – and the man has another 50, and his average mounts higher and higher – even as his shoulders seem to droop lower and lower.
Like Jonathan Trott, he plays in a zone of his own – and this series will be a showcase for two of the finest Test batsmen of the past three years. Watch Trott get right over the ball on the off-side as he defends or drives – watch Chanderpaul push forward to the spinners, smothering both the spin and their spirit – it is cricket as an art, not a tamasha – watch – and watch well – as thousands of English fans are doing at Lords —
As I write, Trott nears another 50 of his own – and the inner battle with Chanderpaul raises a notch… fascinating.
And now for the Nick Compton watch — as of today, he has 857 runs at 122.42 – with another eleven days in May – (a perfect name for a cricket film) – his crossing 1000 in the merry month is on the cards – we will follow it closely.
And Trott has cantered on to his 50 – even as England firms its grip on the Test – but, there are still three and a half days to go – and it is Test cricket- anything can happen –
Finally – Shah Rukh at the Wankhede. Just wanted to say that there are two sides to every story – and we must wait until we know both sides before we condemn either – or both.
Just wish he had bought the Indian women’s hockey team instead of what he did…
And Trott canters as Strauss composes –
My heart goes out to Darren Sammy – a warrior – not a Warrior…