Opinion: Give Shiv one more series

Blog Opinion

There are only two West Indies batsmen who have more than 9000 Test runs. Those same two batsmen actually have over 11 000 said runs, and only one is still playing, looking to overtake the other.

Brian Charles Lara is the leading run-scorer for the maroon-capped side, and close on his heels is Shivnarine Chanderpaul, who needs 45 more runs to equal Lara's 11 912 for the Windies. If he gets 86 more, he will go sixth on the all-time Test list.

Chanderpaul is taking his sweet time though, and at nearly 41 years of age is one of the oldest players in the international game. He's second only to Pakistan's Misbah-ul-Haq in Tests, and they're the only two over 40.

So one has to assume that Chanderpaul is aiming for that first record before retiring. His form at the moment is not such that he's playing a visibly crucial role in the side, though his experience and influence cannot be discounted, given the young batting line up.

The most recent series he played in saw six innings against England, none of which reached a half century and three were single figures. While the Windies won the third Test and drew the series, Chanderpaul was a background figure. Will he care about the record and keep going?

As was the case with Sachin Tendulkar and Jacques Kallis though, the WICB are not likely to drop their elder statesman. He still averages above 50, as all five retirees above him on the all-time list did upon hanging up their boots (Sangakkara's still playing), and his last ton came in late 2014.

Based on recent innings, and his age, it's too simplistic to call for his retirement, because who would he make way for? There's not really anyone knocking down the door to replace a man with 21 years in the side, and who has played with nearly 100 different team-mates.

Of those player, 42 failed to play more than five Tests, so one can understand his reluctance to leave an unstable line-up, and the top brass's reluctance to hand him his gold watch. Jermaine Blackwood and Kraigg Brathwaite are promising, but not consistent yet.

The talismanic batsman could also be waiting to play a Test alongside his son, Tagenarine (his nickname is surely something citrus-related). Young Chanders is nearly 19 and plays for the national side at that level, and also plays for the Guyana senior side.

The chances of them walking out in whites together is not too high though, unless it's a publicity stunt, given the lad has played just nine first class games and averages a touch over 20, a top score of 43. Not a pretender to the throne quite yet.

Another interesting snippet is that fact that Chanderpaul is a rarity in that he made his debut as a teenager and is still playing in his 40s. Tendulkar was another to do that, and the third was England's Brian Close, still the youngest debutant for the Three Lions.

So what's next? If Shiv doesn't retire in the coming weeks, his next assignment will be in early June at home against Australia. Getting those pesky 45 runs will be a tough ask against Mitchell Johnson and co, considering it's a two-Test series, but we won't rule it out at all.

Lindsay du Plessis