Monday, June 11, 2007

West Indies recover some pride

The Windian batsman showed a lot of character, to end yesterday’s play on 301 for 5. Shivnarine Chanderpaul led the way with 81, with solid support from the middle order.

Everyone thought that Brian Lara was the West Indies’ best player. This may have been right. However, my favourite was always Chanderpaul. Mainly because everything about him is a bit weird. You watch him in the out-field; he’s not quite all there, is he?

His crabby batting stance and his barely co-ordinated movements exude incompetence. It’s a wonder he manages to hit the ball at all sometimes. But Chanders is a genius. A weird genius.

He works for his runs. He nurdles, nudges and weirds runs out of the bowling. What was most noticeable out of yesterday’s innings was his stunning ability to time the ball so well. Lara, with his high backlift, was all about power, over-awing the opposition. Chanderpaul quietly accumulates singles, and occasionally extends himself and sweetly timing stray deliveries to the boundary.

Just look at the shot in the picture. Getting well underneath the ball, he deliberately edges a sneaky single to fine leg. All without looking at the ball. That’s talent.

Regular readers may have noticed that I have a soft spot for the steady battlers, the boring batsman, but they will also know that I an affection for spinners. My champions excelled yesterday.

Monty Panesar once again betrayed the one-dimensional nature of England’s attack. With Steve Harmison still inconsistent, the refusal of the ball to swing for Ryan Sidebottom and Liam Plunkett’s amateurism, I would rather fancy the Windies’ chances of chasing down the 400.

Monty, however, generated his own pressure, and constantly threatened the batsman with spin and bounce. However, I rather think his enthusiasm got the better of him at some points, putting the umpire under a lot of pressure.

English fans used to oppose this rather vulgar element to the game that originated overseas. It’s as if you actually want to win, which is, of course, a base objective. Now the intimidation of the umpire is creeping into the English game, I think that the ECB should try to nip it in the bud. Maybe limit appeals to two an over – but even this seems a lot. Tricky one, that.

I’ll try and think of an answer. If I do, you’ll be the first to know.

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