Cricket’s Modern Greats: Tendulkar, Lara, Ponting, Kallis, Clarke, Cook …. Chanderpaul too?

As I bit into my lunch burrito today and checked Cricinfo I noted that again Shivnarine Chanderpaul has come to the aid of his team scored an innings saving century in New Zealand.

It left me pondering Chanderpaul’s place in the game in the eyes of the fans and the pundits. What I mean is this: when one considers the modern greats of the game how often is the name Chanderpaul mentioned? With no scientific evidence to back this, I am of the view that he is oft the forgotten man when it comes to considering those who dominated the game in the last 20 years.

Chanderpaul debuted in 1994 and has amassed the following record:

Matches Innings Runs Average 100’s 50’s
153 260 11199 52.08 29 62

Now consider that record in comparison to these records of those who have played the game since Chanderpaul’s debut on 17 March 1994:

Player Span Matches Innings Runs Average 100’s 50’s
SR Tendulkar (India) 1994-2013 169 286 13952 54.28 44 58
RT Ponting (Aus) 1995-2012 168 287 13378 51.85 41 62
R Dravid (ICC/India) 1996-2012 164 286 13288 52.31 36 63
JH Kallis (ICC/SA) 1995-2013 165 278 13140 55.21 44 58
S Chanderpaul (WI) 1994-2013 153 260 11199 52.08 29 62
BC Lara (ICC/WI) 1994-2006 119 212 11012 53.45 33 41
DPMD Jayawardene (SL) 1997-2013 138 232 10806 49.56 31 45
KC Sangakkara (SL) 2000-2013 117 200 10486 56.98 33 42
GC Smith (ICC/SA) 2002-2013 113 196 9102 49.46 27 38
VVS Laxman (India) 1996-2012 134 225 8781 45.97 17 56
ML Hayden (Aus) 1996-2009 102 182 8605 51.22 30 29
V Sehwag (ICC/India) 2001-2013 104 180 8586 49.34 23 32
Inzamam-ul-Haq (ICC/Pak) 1994-2007 106 177 8108 50.99 23 44
KP Pietersen (Eng) 2005-2013 102 177 8052 47.64 23 34
MJ Clarke (Aus) 2004-2013 100 170 7987 52.2 26 27
AN Cook (Eng) 2006-2013 100 179 7955 47.07 25 34
SR Waugh (Aus) 1994-2004 105 164 7582 55.75 25 33

The final part of the puzzle when it comes to Chanderpaul’s place in the game and his future legacy is how he has performed against the best teams in the world over the span of his career:

Chanderpaul v Country Matches Innings Runs Average 100’s 50’s
Australia 20 38 1649 49.96 5 11
South Africa 20 36 1619 50.59 5 7
India 25 44 2171 63.85 7 10
England 33 54 2359 52.42 5 16

These numbers compare more than a bit well to those of any Chanderpaul’s contemporaries don’t they? On their own they put him right up there with the greats who have strapped on a pad. Then you have to add to the impressiveness of these numbers the quality of the team that Chanderpaul has been playing in for all of these years. Here are the records of each test playing team during Chanderpaul’s career:

Team Mat Won Lost Tied Draw W/L
Australia 225 135 50 0 40 2.7
England 246 96 75 0 75 1.28
South Africa 196 96 48 0 51 2
India 187 69 53 0 64 1.3
Pakistan 165 63 59 0 43 1.06
Sri Lanka 169 62 55 0 52 1.12
West Indies 194 43 94 0 56 0.45
New Zealand 164 41 66 0 56 0.62

Therein lies the real story behind the record of Chanderpaul: he has performed consistently and excellently at the highest level whilst all around him (particularly since 2006 when Lara retired) has been the disarray of a declining team and bitter infighting between the board and the players in the team.

I am left to wonder whether Chanderpaul would receive more of the kudos he so obviously deserves if he played for Australia or a similarly successful team. I also wonder if Chanderpaul’s method at the crease was more aesthetically pleasing, like that of Lara, whether he would similarly receive said kudos. I am certain that both wonderings should be answered in the affirmative.

We have recently seen the retirement of Tendulkar and his, effective, coronation by all and sundry in the game as a living deity. Chanderpaul’s record over his career is equally as impressive as Tendulkar’s and there is a strong argument that he has been more important to his team than Tendulkar was (Tendulkar had the benefit Messrs Sehwag, Dravid and Laxman to bat with afternoon). His retirement cannot be far away and one can only hope that he gets the same consideration given by the ICC and his home cricket board as Tendulkar received. Frankly tough I suspect he will remain the forgotten great of the game he presently is.

One response

  1. Yes, yes and yes! I love Chanderpaul. I love the fact that his technique, so ugly that he looks like a hermit crab scuttling along the crease, would have a batting coach in tears. I love the fact that again and again he pulls the West Indies out of the fire, and I love the fact that – other than sadly now retired Dravid – he’s one of the few modern batsmen that, once he’s in, you can see bowlers literally pulling their hair out wondering how to get him out. He’s not my favourite modern cricketer (that would be Sangakkara, but he comes close.

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