Overnight in Roseau, Shivnarine Chanderpaul fell 14 runs short of becoming the 10th batsman in history to score 10,000 Test runs.
The West Indian “Rock of Gibraltar” was trapped in front by Australian paceman Mitchell Starc for 68, taking him to a career-high 9986.
In that time, he’s faced 23,439 deliveries to underline his incredible patience. Most cricket lovers wouldn’t have seen 23,439 deliveries bowled, let alone faced them.
I well remember when Indian opening batsman Sunny Gavaskar became the first to crack the 10,000-run barrier in 1987, and thinking that milestone would take some catching.
But Gavaskar is now number nine in the pecking order, well behind the front-running modern day champion: Indian batsman Sachin Tendulkar, with 15470 and counting. We can safely say that milestone will never be matched.
Just as Tendulkar means so much to Indian cricket, the same can be said of Chanderpaul in the Caribbean.
He treasures his wicket like none other, reminiscent of England’s famous three “Bs”: Trevor Bailey, Ken Barrington, and Geoff Boycott.
Bailey earned his nickname of “Barnacle” with the slowest Test half-century in history, taking 357 minutes against Australia at Brisbane in 1958. In the end, he was dismissed for 68 in 458 minutes – his last 18 runs took 101 minutes.
Barrington had many digs when he dug in.
Among them, his unbeaten 151 against India in 1961 at Mumbai took 420 minutes. His 137 against New Zealand at Edgbaston in 1965 took 437 minutes, while his career-high 256 against Australia at Old Trafford took 683 minutes.
On the other side of the coin, Barrington is sixth on the all-time best Test averages with 58.67, behind Don Bradman’s 99.94, Graeme Pollock’s 60.97, George Headley’s 60.83, Herbert Sutcliffe’s 60.73, Eddie Paynter’s 59.23.
Boycott was as tight with his runs, and he was with his wallet. His 117 against South Africa at Port Elizabeth in 1965 took 423 minutes. His unbeaten 142 against Australia at the SCG in 1971 took 412 minutes and the 191 against Australia at Headingley in 1977, his 100th first class ton, took 629 minutes.
What is noticeable with the stats of yesteryear, minutes were benchmark not balls faced.
Tendulkar, for example, has no record of how many balls he’s faced having started his stellar career in 1989.
But Chanderpaul started his Test career in 1994, when balls faced were an automatic addition to the scorebook.
It would be fascinating knowing how many balls “The Don” faced. But we’ll never know.