Shivnarine Chanderpaul's batting technique is the antithesis of elegance. Shuffling across the crease to turn the ball into the leg side, his workmanlike style frustrates bowlers and spectators alike. Yet Test cricket will miss him when he is gone.
As the 37-year-old approaches the end of a prolific 18-year international career, it is relevant to ask how many future batsmen will possess his characteristics? With the influence of Twenty20 increasing, how many players will be prepared to develop the determination, the patience and the levels of concentration that Chanderpaul has mastered?
He has his detractors. They say he struggles to change gear or that, instead of hogging the No 5 spot, he should move up a couple of places, to give ballast to a fragile top order. While both judgements have merit, it seems churlish to draw too much attention to Chanderpaul's foibles.
In this match he batted for 10 hours and 25 minutes and scored 178 runs before England dismissed him. He seemed certain to score a century yesterday but fell nine runs short, trapped leg-before by Graeme Swann with the first delivery of a new spell shortly before tea.
Chanderpaul knows precisely how important he is to this team and he called quickly for the review, which did not spare him as it had in the first innings. The Guyanan faced his 24,000th ball in Tests during this knock, and shifting Shiv will be the England bowlers' priority in this series.
If Chanderpaul feared that his team would subside after his departure, he would have been justified in doing so. Too often in his Test career, Chanderpaul has embarrassed careless team-mates with his remorseless attitude to batting. But happily for West Indies this was not the case yesterday. Marlon Samuels, above, and to a lesser extent Denesh Ramdin played maturely, proving that there is courage within this side.
Samuels' 86 was a pleasant surprise. Here is a player whose talent is beyond doubt but whose mental strength has been questioned. Maybe Chanderpaul and Samuels are batting too low in the order but if their younger colleagues can copy them, the West Indies' prospects in this series, and in the future, will start to look much brighter.Reuse content