There’s a TV show made by the BBC called Top Gear (for readers who are new to planet earth) and in one episode they took a Toyota Hilux pick-up truck (Bakkie, Ute, etc) and smashed the crap out of it in all sorts of ways.
They tried to get the machine to stop working, and they couldn’t, no matter what they did to it. It was old, battered, not very pretty in the first place, but it kept going, revving its engine when it should have died.
This long-winded and contrived analogy relates to West Indies veteran batsman Shivnarine Chanderpaul, who at the age of 40 and part of a generally woeful side (unless they’re facing Bangladesh or Zimbabwe) continues to rumble on.
He’s the most capped Test player in West Indies history, has the most ‘not out’ innings of any Test player from any nation, and is the number three-ranked Test batsman despite his team being at the bottom of the ladder.
He’s been part of one of the best teams ever assembled, in the early 1990s, part of the worst one in recent years, and has endured player strikes, lack of wages, a merry-go-round of coaches, and scored many a ton in vain.
In the recently concluded Test series against Bangladesh, he demonstrated why he is head and shoulders above most batsmen, and gave the Tigers a dismissive glare above his war paint, scoring three not outs, all above 84.
In the first Test, which the Windies won by 10 wickets after batting just once, he made 85 not out, and followed that up in St Lucia this week with scores of 84 not out and 101 not out. The Windies won the game by 296 runs.
‘And he doesn’t even have an IPL contract,’ quipped a colleague as we picked Shiv as our award recipient. Sadly, that is often the measure of a good batsman these days. Can Shiv even do a Dilscoop or a helicopter shot? It would seem wrong and undignified to suggest he should.
So here’s to the hardy, resilient, and reliable engine of the Windies batting line-up. May he still be playing when his son reaches the national side, so he can add another record to his tally, not that he cares about those.
Lindsay du Plessis
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