Tony Cozier: Tiger incandescent as tail goes down in blaze of idiocy

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The Independent Online

Shivnarine Chanderpaul has been known among team-mates and home fans as "Tiger" long before a certain golfer came along.

Shivnarine Chanderpaul has been known among team-mates and home fans as "Tiger" long before a certain golfer came along.

For the second time in the match, but not the first in his career, the solid left-hander fought to reclaim a desperate situation for the West Indies yesterday with the tenacity and courage that explain the analogy.

Early on the tour, his form deserted him to the extent that he declined to open the batting in the one-day matches in the NatWest Series, a role he has fulfilled with success.

Runs were also at a premium in his first three innings in the warm-up matches but, like Michael Vaughan, he committed himself to extra practice at every opportunity. Even the West Indies' fitness trainer, Ronald Rogers, was seconded to bowl in the nets when others got weary.

The returns came in an unbeaten century in his last innings prior to the Test, against Sri Lanka A, that brought him nicely to the boil for Lord's.

Yet in both innings here, his efforts to save his team - and, yesterday, to match Vaughan's accomplishment of two hundreds in a Lord's Test - were in vain.

He was denied on both counts as much by the unrelenting opposition as his tailend colleagues, whose appropriate nicknames with animal connections would be dodos and lemmings.

In the first innings, he defied every combination that England used to dislodge him for nearly six and a half hours only to be betrayed by the Nos 10 and 11, the half-brothers Pedro Collins and Fidel Edwards.

Collins (batting average 6.68) chose as the best option for his 11th ball an expansive drive against Andrew Flintoff, unmindful of his team's deficit of more than 150 runs and the hundred his classy partner had to his name. The outcome was a set of uprooted stumps.

Undeterred, Edwards (average 4.36) followed his brotherly lead and was duly bowled at the other end, aiming a wild swipe at Ashley Giles.

Battered and bruised by the pounding he received from Stephen Harmison and Matthew Hoggard, Chanderpaul could only shake his head in disappointment, if not disbelief, and trudge off unbeaten on 128 with England 152 ahead.

It was Tino Best's turn to leap off the cliff yesterday with no regard for the consequences. The surrounding fielders, confident of the response that they would get from the hyperactive fast bowler (average 8.77), encouraged him to try to shatter the windows in the media centre with one shot off Giles.

Best duly obliged, charging down the pitch and swinging hopefully at his seventh ball. Not surprisingly, he missed, was stumped and left to roars of laughter from the England players and expletives in the media centre from fuming West Indian players of an era when such selfish madness merited immediate dismissal from the team.

Stumped is not the usual mode of dismissal for the lower order of a team battling to save a match, especially with a proven, in-form batsman at the opposite end.

Yet, an hour later, Collins, who had defended stoically for 38 balls, could restrain himself no longer. He tried to smash Giles into the Grandstand, dragged his back foot and was stumped for another suicidal dismissal.

Chanderpaul was on 69 at the time and, although he was skilful enough to advance to 97, Edwards could only hold out for 28 deliveries before Vaughan summoned Flintoff to finish off him and the match.

Such indiscipline typifies the malaise that has dragged West Indies cricket from the pinnacle of world cricket to the pits.

It is also manifested in the wayward bowling and the abysmal fielding, all reflective of a lack of proper preparation and a lack of a work ethic essential to succeed at the highest level.

This is a very young team filled with players with obvious natural ability, seven of whom are under 25. But unless and until their talent is allied to hard work and cricketing common sense, they will continue to fail.