Cricket: Chanderpaul joins new left force: West Indies' new jewel sparkles as Australia lose a one-day master - Tony Cozier on the rich seam of batting talent that is emerging throughout the islands of the Caribbean

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The Independent Online
THERE was a time, not that long ago, when West Indians feared for the future of their batting.

Suddenly, a new bountiful crop is sprouting. Coincidentally, the early harvest has been of left-handers of differing styles, personalities, upbringing and even ethnic origin, but all unmistakeably West Indian.

Brian Lara, the dapper little Trinidadian with the boyish good looks whom they call the Prince, has already caught the cricket public's imagination with his cavalier approach to batting and to life itself.

Jimmy Adams is a West Indian of mixed blood, son of a Jamaican father, an eminent country doctor, and a Canadian mother, schooled for life and for cricket at one of Jamaica's premier colleges and enrolled as a member of its most prestigious cricket club, Kingston, even as a boy.

While Lara's reputation has been based on style, Adams has made his name on substance, already known as Mr Reliable after just eight Tests.

Shivnarine Chanderpaul, the newest and the youngest of the lot, is something else again. He was reared in rural Guyana, on the north coast of South America, by a fisherman father who was so confident of his son's potential as a cricketer that he took him out of school so he could fully develop it. The first ethnic Indian to represent the West Indies in a dozen years, following the lead of those such as Rohan Kanhai, Alvin Kallicharran and Sonny Ramadhin.

The teenaged Chanderpaul developed the remarkable powers of concentration he again demonstrated in his dogged rescue act in this innings by simply batting as long as he could wherever he could. Fortunately his family convinced their neighbours in the village of Unity that their involvement in the practice sessions would lead to yet another Test player from within their ranks, and the frail youngster has inevitably joined Colin Croft in West Indies Test cricket.

There are others, too, who await their calls. Stuart Williams is a well- organised opening batsman with a sweet sense of timing from among the population of 9,000 on the tiny island of Nevis. Roland Holder is a Barbadian with the same type of credentials as Worrell, coming through the same school and the same club if not quite yet with the same volume of runs and undeniable quality. Both advertised themselves to this England team with centuries for the Board XI in Grenada over the Easter weekend. It should not be long before they are doing the same in Tests.

(Photograph omitted)