Thursday, 18 September 2014

Thursday thoughts

This time tomorrow, I could quite easily be posting this blog from a foreign country, depending on the result of today's referendum of the Scottish people on independence...

Time will tell on that one, but I couldn't allow the week to pass without recognising the ongoing genius of Shivnarine Chanderpaul.

He's not been dismissed in the current series against Bangladesh, after unbeaten scores of 84, 85 and 101. Only Donald Bradman in cricket history averages more in Test cricket after his 38th birthday than Shiv, whose powers of concentration remain undiminished. He is now just 289 runs behind Brian Lara in the West Indies batting pantheon, a total that he could easily pass in the coming months.

What next? Could we yet see him back in Derbyshire colours?

It all depends on the player. There is an option for him to have a third season at Derbyshire and while that could be taken up with him as overseas player, I think it unlikely. The 2015 English summer schedule for the West Indies is congested and Shiv would make a very small contribution in terms of availability, should he opt to stay in the international game. I also think that Cheteshwar Pujara will be the number one target, a player more likely to be available for the majority of the campaign.

But what if Shiv retired from international cricket on passing the Lara record?

If he reaches 12,000 Test runs, which seems likely, it is a record likely to stand for some time, especially given the current paucity of West Indian batting. Maybe he could push the total closer to 13,000, but I think him likely to be a man who goes on his own terms, quitting while he is ahead of the game, rather than having an enforced retirement, courtesy of the Caribbean cricket selectors.

I just wonder if Chanderpaul could be prevailed upon to return for at least one more summer as a Kolpak batsman. While we have a good number of options in the batting ranks. might the opportunity to have one of the world's greats be too good to resist? I've spoken to Derbyshire players who have told me of his influence, how he talks them through innings and how his attitude to practice is exemplary, especially for young players.

While acknowledging that a Kolpak presence takes up a space that could otherwise be taken by a young local player, there's a considerable difference between Chanderpaul and the common and garden Kolpak.

We don't know how much a permanent deal for Pujara or Wayne White may cost, nor of any change to the contracts of current players. But if we could still afford a T20 specialist afterwards, the appeal of a middle order of Madsen, Pujara and Chanderpaul is considerable.

We might need to start playing twelve-a-side to fit them all in...

1 comment:

Marc said...

I think this can be split straight down the middle;Kolpak or overseas.

I can see little if any benefit of bringing him back as the overseas player. You mention the Windies hectic test programme and that would mean he misses a large percentage of the season. For me that rules him out in an instant.I think he will continue to play test cricket for another year at least.

He is still capable of scoring runs and the present series proves the point,though it could be argued Bangladesh are not much better than a number of county sides. I also believe he has very limited value as a one day player,an area we must strive to make serious improvements.

As a Kolpak player there is perhaps a stronger argument for his involvement. Over a full season he would almost certainly guarantee a thousand runs,set against the theoretical contributions of the likes of Hughes (x2),Elstone,Thakor etc.

On balance,I would vote no. Having said that,I would not be unduly unhappy if he did return as a Kolpak.

Next season we need to find out more about some of the youngsters we already have. Slater is making steady progress and should continue to do so. Alex Hughes has to kick on and Thakor looks a highly promising all rounder. I remain unconvinced regarding Elstone,who will be 25 next season and fast approaching the time where he needs to establish himself,if it,s going to happen at all. The same applies to Chesney Hughes who has to make next season count if he is to continue his career.I think we owe it to these players to give them 2015 to see what they are really made of and that,s the direction I would go in.

I have to admit there is still a certain appeal in Chanderpaul but if we sign Pujara,who is competent in all formats,along with a specialist 20/20 player,then I would be satisfied with that.