Shivnarine Chanderpaul’s last appearance in an ODI was during the 50-over World Cup in 2011
By Avenash Ramzan
He may not be dashing as Viv Richards, imposing as Chris Gayle, flambouyant as Brian Lara or classy as Rahul Dravid. Yet, Shivnarine Chanderpaul’s dogged presence at the crease has frustrated many a bowlers the world over.
His stats are mind-boggling: 443 matches at the international level in a career nearing 20 years speak to his fortitude and desire to excel. A total of 20,340 runs at the highest level, inclusive of 40 centuries and 121 half-centuries, makes him a modern day giant and places him among the greats of the game.
Only last month during the series against New Zealand Chanderpaul became the seventh player in history, second West Indian and first Guyanese to pass 11,000 Test runs. Immediately after, he scored 122 not out- his 29th Test century- to draw level with the great Australian Sir Donald Bradman and remained second behind Brian Lara (34) as the West Indians with the most Test hundreds.
While the “Tiger” continues to reel off the runs unabated in Test cricket, his One Day International (ODI) career was abruptly cut off after the 50-over World Cup in 2011 on the premise that he was part of a band of “senior players” who simply did not hold their weight and were blamed by coach Ottis Gibson for the team’s departure from the tournament at the quarter-final stage.
Chris Gayle, Ramnaresh Sarwan and Kieron Pollard were also chastised for their showing- or lack thereof- and while they have all regained selection to the team at some point, the left-handed Chanderpaul remains on the sidelines.
It has been two years, 10 months since Chanderpaul last played an ODI, during which time he has remained fit and active to last five days of Test cricket and still produce heavily in the most difficult of circumstances.
Over the past two decades, the gritty middle-order batsman has risen to the demands of international cricket, and to this day, the desire and eagerness to prolong his ODI career are as strong as 1994 when, as a teenager, he walked out to face England on his Test debut at Bourda.
“I’m still available for all formats,” Chanderpaul told this Guyana Times Sport on Wednesday.
The 2008 ICC Cricketer-of-the-Year reiterated that he has never retired from limited overs cricket, and would want to scale similar heights in ODIs as he has done in Tests.
“My desire has always been to score 10,000 runs in both forms- Tests and ODIs- and while it’s a dream come through to get past 11,000 Test runs a few weeks ago, I still feel I can contribute in ODIs and I’m always available for selection,” Chanderpaul explained.
With 8,778 runs from 268 ODIs, Chanderpaul is the second highest runscorer for West Indies in the format behind Lara, who has notched up 10,348 runs from a record 299 games.
The NAGICO Super50 regional tournament is set to bowl off on January 30 and run until February 17 and Chanderpaul will be available to represent Guyana throughout the competition.
He is also looking forward to the regional Four-day competition, which will follow, before heading off to honour his contractual obligations with English county side, Derbyshire.
International engagements thereafter mean Chanderpaul is faced with a packed year of cricket, but unfazed by the hectic schedule, he is prepared to make a return to ODI cricket.
Recalling the services of the Shiv may help to salvage some pride for a team languishing in the bottom half of the ICC rankings, especially with the 50-over World Cup just a year away.
Could the NAGICO Super50 spring the “Tiger” back into the maroons? Only time will tell.