Unfair to accuse Chanderpaul of selfishness
Shivnarine Chanderpaul has, without doubt, earned the right to be rated the number one batsman in the cricketing world by the ICC, and his recent 87 not out against England in the first test at Lords, when his fellow WI players were faltering big time, further underscores his unique batting prowess and entitlement to such rating.
But a recent article by George Dobell, a British sports writer, pointing to “Chanderpaul’s selfish gene,” and suggesting that Bravo’s run out, after a Chanderpaul stroke to backward point, was caused by Shiv’s merely looking at the ball when he should have heeded Bravo’s move to score a single, leaves much cause for concern and debate. Dobell also cast aspersions at Shiv’s decision to score a single on the first ball of the last over of the day, exposing Edwards to the bowling of Broad, who was having one of his best days.
To deem a professional of the caliber of Chanderpaul as selfish, looking out only for himself, seems overly bold and extreme. A run out is almost always a subject of second-guessing. And even though, as pointed out in the article, Shiv has, in his test career, been involved in some 23 run outs, with him being the safe one in the majority of cases, to consider this statistic as emblematic of selfishness seems specious at best. After all, the longer a batsman is at the crease, the greater the likelihood of his being involved in a running error.
Chanderpaul happens to be one of the most patient batsmen in the game, and when the wickets of his team mates are crumbling and he is forced to (unselfishly) concentrate on saving the side, as he has done so often over the years, he no doubt assumes the sheet anchor role and exercises extreme care to avoid a total collapse. So, when he executed that stroke and watched the ball while Bravo was barreling down the pitch for what appeared to be an easy single, it seemed, as would be human for even the most responsible professional, that he suffered a momentary lapse of concentration, with the unfortunate run-out ensuing.
The British have a penchant to critique opposing players, too often as a means of ruffling feathers and causing subsequent lapses of concentration. And, considering the latest scores in the test match, responsibility may very well, yet again, fall on the shoulders of Chanderpaul for the West Indies to muster any hope of saving it. Hopefully, he can ignore the “selfishness” accusation and play his natural game.
The game of cricket at the test match level involves professionals who, over the years, had to have proved themselves worthy of selection by superior performances in the field. So facing a few deliveries even from a bowler of Broad’s caliber should not have been too much to ask – even of a tail-ender.
Every run scored adds to the tally, which was rather meagre when that single was scored on the first ball of the final over. The professional who hit the ball obviously showed due deference to his fellow professional who, however, blew it.
It may be argued that even the great Brian Lara has joined the debate, alleging that Chanderpaul’s preference to bat at number five as opposed to number three smacks of selfishness. Whatever a player’s choice, is not the batting order the prerogative of the captain? Lara’s record as WI captain cannot be hailed as the most exemplary, so he should keep his peace on issues touching on the captaincy.
On another note, perhaps the West Indies’ selectors can do something to avoid situations wherein one player is too often left to play a salvaging role. It may do them well to heed what has been happening in the rest of the cricketing world, such as that match in the IPL, when Gayle continued to exhibit his batting might by blasting 13 sixes and 7 fours in his latest first class century; and, further, right next door, a match in which the much snubbed Ramnaresh Sarwan scored a first innings century and just fell short of another ton in the second innings by two runs – in similar, inning-salvaging situations for his team, Leicestershire.