Chanderpaul’s mental fortitude a great template for Caribbean batsmen, says Radford

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By Akeem Greene

Shivnarine Chanderpaul’s mental fortitude and ability to craft an innings of great character is a great example for Caribbean batsmen to learn from. That’s the view of renowned international batting coach, Toby Radford.

Chanderpaul, who retired from international cricket in 2016, scored close to 21,000 international runs across the three formats. His most prolific format was Test cricket, where he churned out 11,867 runs from 164 matches to be eighth on the all-time run-scorers list.

He had 96 scores of 50 or more, 30 of which were centuries and allowed him to end with a Test average of 51.37. His unorthodox batting stance, obdurate adhesion to the crease and ability to effortlessly defend his wicket for hours were unique traits that defined his career.

He could also give it a whack, as Australia found out at Bourda in 2003 when he made a century off 69 balls, then the third fastest in Test history.

Shivnarine Chanderpaul played 164 Tests and averaged 51.37 (Getty Images)

It is those and many other facets of Shiv’s game that Radford, who is a former West Indies Batting Coach, feels the Caribbean batsmen can seek to emulate.

In the West Indies Four-Day Championship this season, no batsman had more than two centuries, and only Jermaine Blackwood (768), Kyle Mayers (654) and Devon Smith (649) made in excess of 600 runs.

Jason Mohammed, Nkrumah Bonner, Paul Palmer Jr., John Campbell and Mayers were the only batsmen to score two centuries each. The previous season, four batsmen achieved the landmark.

Notably, among the top three run-scorers, they were 15 half-centuries and just four centuries. Questions have been raised about the batsmen’s mental aptitude for the format or whether it is a technical issue.

Former West Indies Batting Coach Toby Radford working with Guyanese Test batsman Vishaul Singh in 2017 (Photo: CWI Media/Randy Brooks of Brooks Latouche Photography)
Photo by WICB Media/Randy Brooks of Brooks Latouche Photography

“You are looking for, are their common themes here with certain players? Could a player be a lot better if (he) reigned himself in, prepared to bat a bit longer and prepare to bat through the difficult patches?” Radford explained to News Room Sport.

He added, “Someone like Shiv, if you bowled three tight overs, Shiv would play three maidens, but in the fourth or fifth over when you are tired, Shiv would pick you off because he had the patience. For him, the mental capacity to be patient is part of that as well.  I think some of the players over the years would have been wanting to be impatient and play big shots all the time; it doesn’t matter how talented you are, if the all is not there in the right spot, you can’t put it away.”

Radford, who spent over eight years at different intervals with Caribbean cricket, said Chanderpaul’s professionalism was a great hallmark.

He highlighted when the Guyanese left-hander made 103* against Australia at the Kensington Oval in 2012, where he spent most of the day in the middle in sweltering heat and wanted to practice after in the nets.

“It was virtually dark and he came up the step and said ‘Toby we got to go on the bowling machine at the back’ and I said ‘it is nearly dark.’ He said ‘I know what they are going to do tomorrow…and I want to go and work on it.”

“I tell a lot of young players that Shiv Chanderpaul was professional and that’s the mindset you want to see with your young players coming through, this hunger and sell your wicket so dearly; do not give your wicket away and that was Shiv.”

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