By Ravi Venkat
Shivnarine Chanderpaul's axing from the West Indies team to face Australia in the two Test series has evoked mixed reactions. Dinanath Ramnarine, the former West Indies Players Association President (WIPA), called it disgraceful. Former West Indian batsman and legend, Brian Lara said that it showed a lack of respect and that Chanderpaul deserved a farewell series.
While there is no doubting that Chanderpaul has given yeoman service to West Indies cricket for 21 years, the fact remains that Father Time waits for nobody. In an individual sport, a player of repute can continue to play on for a few more years even when he is past his best, as his entry into tournaments is determined by his world ranking. But in a team sport there are a lot of young hopefuls waiting to make their mark and therefore no player, no matter how accomplished can play on indefinitely.
Let us examine Chanderpaul’s record in Tests in detail and see what the stats reveal. The table below gives a summary of his batting in Tests.
Only four players have played more Tests than Chanderpaul. They are Sachin Tendulkar, Steve Waugh, Ricky Ponting and Jacques Kallis. Also, Chanderpaul is seventh highest on the list of most aggregate runs scored in Tests and is one of only nine players to score more than 11,000 runs.
This is a tribute to his appetite for runs and his longevity.
Usually when career records of great Test batsmen are taken for analysis, a minimum cut-off of 2000 Test runs is applied. Out of the 35 West Indian batsmen who have scored more than 2000 Test runs, only 5 have a higher batting average than Chanderpaul.
They are all-time greats in George Headley, Everton Weekes, Garfield Sobers, Clyde Walcott and Brian Lara.
Since he made his Test debut on 17th March 1994, he has missed 41 Tests for the West Indies, but the reasons for that have been injury and the politics of selection, rather than loss of form.
He does however, have a dubious record to his name in Tests, in that he has been on the losing side 77 times, which is the most by any player. But that has been due to the fact that the West Indies have been a weak team for most of his tenure.
Chanderpaul scored his runs at a slow pace as his career batting strike rate of 43.31 suggests, but he was capable of scoring at a brisk rate when the situation demanded. This is borne out from the fact that he has the joint 5th fastest century in Tests in terms of balls faced (69) against Australia at Georgetown in 2003.
He is one of just 74 players to score 1000 Test runs in a calendar year. Like most Test batsmen, he performed better at home, where he scored 6187 runs at an average of 58.36 with 19 centuries. Away from home he scored 5579 runs at an average of 46.10 with 11 centuries.
In the 39 matches that he played that the West Indies won, he scored 2955 runs at an average of 65.66 with 11 centuries, proving that his team depended heavily on his contributions to win matches.
Chanderpaul has played for so long that almost a third of all West Indies cricketers have come after him. Out of the 302 players who have represented West Indies in Tests, 98 have made their debut after Chanderpaul. He has played with 106 West Indian players during the course of his Test career and against 426 opponents. There have been a total of 213 players who have played at least 30 Tests during the course of his 21 year career and out of this only 14 players have a higher career batting average than him.
Since Chanderpaul's debut on 17th March 1994, only Tendulkar, Kallis, Ponting, Dravid and Sangakkara have scored more runs than him. Among West Indians only Brian Lara averages more than him in Tests during that period, averaging 53.71 to Chanderpaul's 51.37.
Finally, the vagaries of cricketing conditions in the world can be divided into three categories. In Australia and South Africa, there is pace and bounce in the wickets. In England and New Zealand there is pronounced swing and seam movement.
In the sub-continent in India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka the tracks assist spin. For this purpose, Bangladesh and Zimbabwe have been excluded as they are not strong enough opposition. Most truly great players have good records in all these types of conditions. Chanderpaul’s record in these conditions is as follows.
The only blemish in his overall career record is that he doesn’t have a Test century in Australia, Pakistan and Sri Lanka. But he has played just six Tests in Pakistan and five in Sri Lanka.
Finally, he is one of an elite group of just 37 Test batsmen, who have scored more than 2000 runs at an average over 50.
The numbers show Chanderpaul deserves his place in the pantheon of all-time great Test batsmen and the West Indies will definitely miss his presence in their batting line-up.
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Updated Date: Jun 03, 2015 13:48:03 IST