The great Shivnarine Chanderpaul
West Indies legend Shivnarine Chanderpaul (Photo: AFP)

Mr Chris Dehring, successful businessman, former marketing executive for West Indies cricket and chief executive officer of the International Cricket Council (ICC) World Cup 2007, recently painted a nightmarish word picture.

Said he: "West Indies cricket, that glorious institution we rightly adore, is a beautiful idea whose time has passed."

That frightening thought is not new, nor is it far-fetched.

Yet even after death — which is always inevitable — the glory and splendour of West Indies cricket will be celebrated for as long as there is recorded history.

None have contributed more to that inimitable legacy than the great batters, dating back to the Jamaican Mr George Headley who, in the infancy of the West Indies team as a Test match-playing entity in the 1930s, carried it on his shoulders like the mythical Greek god Atlas.

Mr Headley's genius was inherited by the legendary Three Ws — the Barbadians Sir Frank Worrell, Sir Everton Weekes and Sir Clyde Walcott. That mantle would pass to the likes of the peerless Barbadian Sir Garfield Sobers and the first great West Indies batsman of East Indian heritage, Mr Rohan Kanhai. Others followed down the years, such as Sir Vivian Richards, Sir Clive Lloyd, and Mr Brian Lara.

Under the radar is the Guyanese, Mr Shivnarine Chanderpaul. Yet his record is that of a truly great player, fully deserving of the honour bestowed this week with his induction into the ICC Hall of Fame.

Between making his Test début as a 19-year-old in 1994 and his last in 2015, Mr Chanderpaul played 164 matches, scoring 11,867 runs — second highest among all West Indies batsmen. His Test match average of 51.37 is higher than his revered countrymen Mr Kanhai and Sir Clive, as well as Sir Vivian and Sir Frank.

Style, rather than substance, is the reason Mr Chanderpaul is sometimes discounted. Typically dour, he didn't fit the mould of spectacular 'shotta' West Indian stroke players.

Yet there were times when, as if possessed, Mr Chanderpaul defied even the mould he had set himself. Such as April 2003 when he scattered the all-conquering Australians with a 69-ball century — to this day among the fastest ever in Test cricket. In that same series he scored a second innings 104, guiding his young countryman Mr Ramnaresh Sarwan to a century of his own, as West Indies chased down 418 — a stunning world record that still stands.

Mr Chanderpaul also defied the traditional coach's manual which requires batsmen to play as straight as possible. The quick-footed left-hander played as he pleased, always with the ball right under his eyes, for, like all the great batsmen he watched the ball on to his bat, twisting his supple wrists on contact, to find gaps.

A small man, he relied on timing. Power only seemed to become part of his game when he hooked and pulled.

Seemingly never fazed, Mr Chanderpaul paid no mind to those who criticised his crouched, chest-on stance. He just kept piling on the runs. And much like Mr Headley in the earliest years, Mr Chanderpaul carried fragile West Indies batting on his slim shoulders, more especially as his career approached its end.

For sure, as long as West Indies cricket is celebrated — alive or dead — Mr Shiv Chanderpaul will be hailed among its finest.

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