Bangalore: Over the past decade, he has averaged more than Sachin Tendulkar and made as many scores over 50. He also has to his credit the fourth-fastest Test century of all time (69 balls). Only eight men have played more than the 144 Test matches that he has aggregated since his debut 18 years ago. Yet, when people talk of Shivnarine Chanderpaul, who turned 38 on August 16, they're more likely to focus on the ungainly stance and the utilitarian scoring methods. Seldom will you hear the word 'great' in conjunction with his name, though his numbers and the way he has carried a brittle line-up for years more than merits it.
Of the 10 men to scale the 10,000-run mountain in Test cricket, only Chanderpaul and Mahela Jayawardene have at times been damned with faint praise. In Jayawardene's case, his formidable home record has been the stick to beat him with. The fact that Ricky Ponting and Brian Lara were also significantly more successful on home turf is conveniently ignored. For Chanderpaul, who has also been more prolific in familiar conditions, the barbs are directed more at a technique that wasn't cut from purist cloth.
When it comes to perceptions of Chanderpaul, there are echoes of another left-hander who hailed from across the water in Trinidad. Larry Gomes played 60 Tests for West Indies between 1976 and 1987. He averaged nearly 40 in a time when 50 was rare, and was an integral part of the most successful side that cricket had seen.