ROSEAU, Dominica: An adjective habitually associated with West Indies batsman Shivnarine Chanderpaul in sports reports about him is the word 'durable'.
He now holds a cherished record that bears testimony to his resilience, having reached the milestone of 133 Tests to become the most capped Test player in the history of West Indies cricket.
“This is a milestone I never dreamt of achieving, certainly not when I started playing Test cricket, so it is a great honour to achieve this milestone,” he said.
Once West Indies captain Darren Sammy exchanged team lists with India captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni and spun the toss in the third Test at Windsor Park here, Chanderpaul had the honour of overtaking fast bowler Courtney Walsh, whose durability also became legend in these parts.
From the precocious sapling of a teen almost unable to walk in his leg guards and properly manoeuvre his bat, Chanderpaul has emerged as one of the most respected batsmen in the game today at the age of 36.
With an open stance that betrays the coaching manuals of the purists — and has been unkindly described by some critics as “crabby” — Chanderpaul has defied attacks around the world, accumulating 9,228 runs at an average of 48.56.
Chanderpaul has often batted in the shadows of more entertaining team-mates, like Brian Lara, Chris Gayle and Ramnaresh Sarwan, yet his value to the team has never been underestimated.
His worth is never more apparent than during batting crises, which have bedevilled an ailing West Indies side for almost two decades.
He was named the International Cricket Council's (ICC) Cricketer of the Year three years ago, when he won the prestigious Garfield Sobers Trophy.
Nicknamed 'Tiger' after a dressing-room confrontation with West Indies fast bowling legend Curtly Ambrose, Chanderpaul says he still loves his job as much as when he first walked onto the field wearing the 'Baggy Maroon'.
“Throughout my long career I have always enjoyed playing the game, and I love batting with a passion,” he said.
“That love and passion are still there and hopefully they will keep me in the game for a bit longer.
“Even though I am in the last part of my career I still have that hunger for success.”
His selection for his debut Test 17 years ago on home soil at Bourda Oval, where he had honed his skills, is still one of the proudest achievements in the game for then chairman of selectors, David Holford, the former Barbados captain and West Indies all-rounder.
The West Indies Cricket Board (WICB), with whom he has not seen eye-to-eye in recent weeks because of their decision to limit him to just Tests, has also showered him with praise.
“I want to congratulate Shivnarine Chanderpaul for yet another remarkable achievement in his outstanding cricket career for the West Indies,” said WICB president Julian Hunte.
“This is a phenomenal achievement, and we all salute him. To play 133 Test matches requires a strong mind, a tough body, and amazing will-power.”
Before the start of the Test in the Dominica capital, Chanderpaul was congratulated by the entire team at a brief ceremony in front of the Billy Doctrove Pavilion.
He also received a tumultuous roar of approval from the spectators when he went into bat, with West Indies typically in crisis at 35 for three.
Ironically, debutants Kieran Powell and Kirk Edwards, two of the batsmen dismissed, had been presented with their first Test caps by Chanderpaul only minutes earlier.
They can only hope to play as long and contribute as much as Chanderpaul has in their own careers.