Chanderpaul's diligence holds Caribbean hangover at bay

He has been, inevitably, overshadowed by another, more prolific and flamboyant left-hander. But in the 10 years they have spent together in the West Indies team Shivnarine Chanderpaul's value has been no less than Brian Lara's.

He has been, inevitably, overshadowed by another, more prolific and flamboyant left-hander. But in the 10 years they have spent together in the West Indies team Shivnarine Chanderpaul's value has been no less than Brian Lara's.

This is Chanderpaul's 77th Test since he first took guard, against Mike Atherton's England in his native Guyana in 1994, hammering the bail into the crease as a marker, a procedure that has become increasingly fashionable.

He was 19 and so small the pads seemed to reach to his armpits. But his method was simple and his temperament clearly sound. He scored 62 with the aplomb of a veteran.

It was the start of a career in which he has become the most adaptable of West Indies' batsmen, but which has been blighted by injuries and illness of one type or another that have kept him out of 19 Tests.

His first hundred was three years and 37 innings in coming, but it was no reflection on his reliability for his average has seldom dipped below 40. He has made up ground quickly. Yesterday's century was his 11th and, given its context and its composition, his best.

He entered the fray on Friday afternoon after three wickets had fallen for eight runs and the West Indies were tottering on the verge of another of their infamous batting breakdowns.

The situation became critical when umpire Daryl Harper's error accounted for Brian Lara. At 139 for four, replying to 568, the resilience of a team still carrying a hangover from its thumping in the Caribbean a few months earlier was severely tested.

Chanderpaul had been there several times before. The course of the innings - indeed the match and, in the circumstances, even the series - revolved around him. Only Dwayne Bravo, aged 20 and on debut, the wicketkeeper Ridley Jacobs, the young all-rounder Omari Banks and the fast bowlers remained.

For almost six and a half hours, until a few scatter-brained tailenders left him high and dry with Twenty20 strokes, he applied himself to the task with unwavering judgement.

It is unlikely that the computers with which the analysts now assess play logged more than a dozen deliveries that genuinely flustered him.

He showed a special liking for the off-side, driving and cutting with certainty for most of his 15 boundaries. Otherwise, he skilfully worked the gaps in the field. It could be described as a typical Chanderpaul innings for it was in the situation to which he is best suited. But, for all the unattractive crabbiness of his style, he is not a one-dimensional batsman.

A couple of his hundreds have been as devastating as any from Lara's bat. He blazed Test cricket's third fastest hundred, off 69 balls, against Australia two years ago. His 109 against South Africa last January came off 170 balls with a six and 20 fours. Incapacitated by a pulled groin muscle, he needed a runner throughout but his work was minimal.

England experienced Chanderpaul's other side in his blazing 84 off 96 balls in the first one-day international in the Caribbean last April. He opened then, as he has often done in the abbreviated game.

Lord's was the occasion for more circumspection. The inspiration his partners gained from him in successive stands of 125, 62 and 72 simply enhanced the value of his innings. The problem for the West Indies now is that he, or someone else, is likely to have to do it all over again second time round.

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