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Reckoner

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With Brian Lara, the role of both individuals was virtually forged during Lara's epic 375 in Antigua 1994 where Shiv's 75* proved an essential knock as it kept England from getting amongst the tail during the King's final flourish.
 
At first a nudger in striking contrast to the historic line of great Guyanese batsmen (e.g. Kanhai, Lloyd, Kallicharan and yes, Bacchus) many purists often thought there was a nationality mix-up as his seemed the way of Gomes and Murray, Trinidadians, while Lara must surely be the South American. 
 
He would allay their concerns over the years of course, recording the third fastest Test hundred of all time, and a storied knock of 71 against a 'white-of-the-flame' Aussie attack in 2000/1 that contained some of the greatest strokeplay of the modern era. And of course, his century contribution to the Team's fourth innings record run chase in 2003.
 
The flip side has of course been the equally storied injuries, the loss of stamina and the cramps just when the hard work had been completed. And then that two-eyed stance. We all knew he was made of the strong stuff from the get-go, an early (and successful) personal altercation with Ambrose cemented his nick-name 'Tigerpaul' within the team, it was just a case of him finishing a tour that truly bothered.
 
That concern was also washed away, almost in sync with a change in his private life over the past five years (it is no surprise that his wife was thanked just below God in yesterday's brief speech) as the runs began to flow more consistently, and then gush.
 
He now stands as the sentinel, and perhaps the last stand, of traditional West Indian cricket, cutting a solitary yet assuring figure when out in the middle with his obvious will providing a plaintive cry to his team-mates to hold the line with him. A recent fourth innings Test victory against a strong Sri Lanka this season provided an example of what could be achieved when his colleagues heard the cry.
 
A strong nationalist, he has consistently distanced himself from the West Indies Players Association (WIPA), yet has displayed, as consistently, an easy mixing in every on-field celebration with the Team. No doubt a mutual peace has been made with this former odd duck who has redefined West Indian batsmanship in the course of a career that shall most likely see him retired as the second most sucessful Windies Test batsman.
 
Mike Findley, former Test player and selector, often joked his greatest professional achievement was persuading the selectors to give the unlikely Chanderpaul his first pick.He scored a fifty and simply has never looked back.
 
We can only hope that he now proves me wrong and gives Brian a run for his money in his own final flourish.
 
(Click here to know more about Jonathan)


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