Chanderpaul treats new format with formidable old resolve

Shiv Chanderpaul

Warwickshire v Lancashire, Specsavers Championship Div One, Edgbaston, Day 1

This series of games was meant to be about the future but, at Edgbaston at least, it was a couple of faces from the past that made the greatest impression.

Shiv Chanderpaul, who seems to have been scoring runs since the invention of electricity, dominated the first day of pink-ball Championship cricket here with the 76th century of a remarkable first-class career.

Lancashire were 55 for 4 not long after he reached the crease. Haseeb Hameed, a year younger than Chanderpaul’s son, Tagenarine, had already fallen – a torturous innings ended by an uppish drive to a short, straight mid-of – and Jos Buttler had gone, too, a 20-ball 2 ended by an attempted pull against a delivery too full for the stroke.

But Chanderpaul reacted with the same imperturbable calm that has characterised so much of his career. It wasn’t especially pretty – of course it wasn’t – but it wasn’t slow (his century took only 129 balls) and it was, in its way, a masterful demonstration of how to compile runs on a slow wicket against an accurate attack. This was his third Championship century of the season and, aged 42 and averaging 76.42, he has proved himself a successful short-term signing.

He survived, perhaps, one chance to Tim Ambrose off Jeetan Patel on 47. But while others poked and prodded (Steven Croft poked at Boyd Rankin’s first ball and was outstandingly well caught by Rikki Clarke in the slips), Chanderpaul was compact but severe on anything short or over-pitched and showed more patience than Buttler and co. could manage. Liam Livingstone, who is due to join the Lions on Wednesday, was given a couple of days off.

A glance at the scoreboard might convince the casual observer that the pink ball provided copious assistance, but it isn’t really so. The new pink ball moved for Keith Barker, but so does the new red one. The older ball moved for him a little, too. But so does the red one. The rest of the Warwickshire bowlers found it harder to gain any lateral assistance and most of the wickets that fell owed more to admirable control from the bowlers and a little lack of patience from the batsmen.

There was little sign that the experiment with day-night cricket attracted more spectators. Quite the opposite, really. While about 1,300 attended during the day, most had departed long before stumps at 9.30pm. Sales for the Test here are very strong, though, with a sell-out predicted for the first three days. Without the novelty of the day-night factor, it is hard to imagine that would have been replicated.

There was another familiar face at Edgbaston on Monday. Dermot Reeve, not so long ago captain of a side here that won six trophies in little more than 24 months, was also back. He was invited to work with the Warwickshire squad on Sunday and (to address the club’s members on Monday) made a strong impression on the squad with a presentation on the benefits of a positive mental approach. He returns to Australia and Grade coaching duties later this week, but he may well be back next year. He declined the club’s offer to buy his personalised copy of Wisden, instead preferring to take his chance on the open market.

One man who was not at Edgbaston was Ian Westwood. He had been due to play (William Porterfield was the man to come into the side in his place; Andy Umeed is being given a chance to establish himself), but went to see Ashley Giles a day or so ahead of the game and said there was simply nothing left in the tank. Years of forcing himself through the uneven battle against the new ball have taken their toll and he decided he simply didn’t have the requisite hunger to force himself through it once more.

Good enough to have played a part in two Championship-winning sides, selfless enough to have captained Warwickshire through some tough years and to have dropped himself before a Lord’s final, he was also good enough to have scored more than 8,000 first-class runs against some fine attacks, including memorable centuries against Surrey and Yorkshire. He has served Warwickshire well.

There will be another new face at Warwickshire shortly. A batting allrounder who is currently struggling for first team opportunities at his strong county, had his medical on Monday. His signing is likely to be announced on Tuesday.

Warwickshire supporters might also be encouraged by the first-team debut of 19-year-old George Panayi. A seam bowling allrounder, Panayi developed through Shrewsbury School and has played for England U19. While he didn’t gain a lot of movement, he bowled at a decent pace – just above 80 mph, you’d think – and was admirably tight in his lines and lengths.

Having helped earn the wicket of Hameed – fortunate to survive a leg before appeal on 0 and perilously close to being bowled by two deliveries he left – who struggled over 63 balls for his 17 (he now averages 19.10 for the campaign), Panayi was rewarded with the second new ball and claimed the wickets of Tom Bailey and James Anderson with successive, full deliveries.

Dane Villas helped Chanderpaul add 96 for the fifth-wicket but, once he was caught off the shoulder of the bat as he attempted to turn one into the leg side – reward for Rankin’s bounce – Barker swung his way through the middle-order. Lancashire’s total is probably some way short of par on a true surface which also saw action in the ICC Champions Trophy semi-final.

In reply, Anderson bowled immaculately. He produced a beauty that swung in late to account for Porterfield and later hit Jonathan Trott a crashing blow on the helmet with a fine short ball. But there was no extreme movement or obvious vision problems. Indeed, for most of the day, as Chanderpaul manoeuvred the ball around the field, it was as if nothing had changed. (ESPNCricinfo)

George Dobell is a senior correspondent at ESPNcricinfo



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