For five minutes yesterday, before the rains came back, a dressing room held its collective breath. Shivnarine Chanderpaul, the world's No 1 batsman, on whose shoulders reside almost all West Indies' hopes for the Test series against England, summoned the team physiotherapist.
He appeared to be in severe discomfort from pain in his left hand and all kinds of dark thoughts must have passed through his colleagues' minds. Without Chanderpaul, the tourists would be in more disarray than they are already. After strapping was applied to his wrist and thumb he continued. The injury appears to have been originally sustained during the seven hours he spent at the crease during the third Test against Australia in Dominica and the jarring it suffered during his brief innings on the third, seriously curtailed day against Sussex aggravated it.
Chanderpaul was spared further pain when rain intervened three overs later after only 71 minutes play with West Indies on 90 for 3. It was an all too familiar scenario for Chanderpaul, who came in at the fall of the third wicket, and to that extent it was perfect practice for the Test series, when he may have to dig his side out of deep holes.
He was already playing with characteristic obduracy, face on to the bowler and shuffling around the crease. Aesthetically, Chanderpaul suffered by comparison with his partner, Darren Bravo, who played a couple of delightful cover drives. Bravo has often been compared for style to his cousin and fellow Trinidadian, Brian Lara. Only 23, he has already scored 1,339 Test runs at an average of almost 50. Right now, West Indies need him to provide a touch of Chanderpaul's adhesion.
The one wicket to fall during another miserable, short day was that of Kieran Powell, who was caught behind shortly after being hit by a bouncer, failing to make up his mind whether to leave a ball from Naveed Arif in time. Over the course of the three days only 34 overs were possible in all.
Richie Richardson, the manager, said he had never known it to be as cold – except when he played for Yorkshire. They are expecting the batsman Marlon Samuels to join the party today after his stint in the Indian Premier League but Narsingh Deonarine and Assad Fudadin are still in Jamaica awaiting visas.
Meanwhile, the Sussex and England all-rounder Luke Wright fears he may have contracted dengue fever while playing for Pune Warriors in the IPL. "Can't remember feeling as bad as I have the last few days. Whatever it is I hope it goes very soon," he tweeted.
Wright has had blood tests to check for the virus, the symptoms of which include fever, headache and joint pain.
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