History at Bourda
History This Week
By Winston McGowan
Stabroek News
April 7, 2005

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The first Test of the current South African cricket tour of the Caribbean is now over. It was only the sixteenth Test and the beginning of the fourth series between the two teams.

The West Indies have had fewer clashes with South Africa than against any other long-established team in international cricket. Although South Africa began playing Test cricket in 1889 and the West Indies in 1928, for more than sixty years the two teams could not play against each other because of the South Africans' abominable racist apartheid policy.

It was not until April 1992, thirteen years ago, in the post-apartheid era, that the inaugural Test between the two sides took place, the first game between South Africa and a non-white team. This historic match was played at Kensington Oval in Bridgetown, Barbados where the West Indies, under the captaincy of the Antiguan, Richie Richardson, gained an exciting come-from-behind victory by 52 runs.

Since then the West Indies have lost three consecutive Test series to South Africa, two in South Africa (in 1998-99 and 2003-4) and one at home (in 2000-01). They would like to atone for these defeats by winning the current Test series.

The first match of the series at Bourda was historic in many ways. It was the first occasion that Guyana's skipper, Shivnarine Chanderpaul, was asked to lead the regional team in the Test match. He is the sixth Guyanese to enjoy that honour. Like two of his Guyanese predecessors, namely Maurius Fernandes in 1930 and Alvin Kallicharran in 1978, Chanderpaul was thrust into the position unexpectedly in circumstances which may be described as an emergency or crisis.

"Tiger" responded by scoring an impressive double century. His innings was a very significant achievement from several perspectives. It was the highest score by a West Indian in his debut as skipper of the Test team. He surpassed the scores of his five Guyanese predecessors - 22 and 19 by Fernandes, 84 by Rohan Kanhai, 30 and 163 by Clive Lloyd, 0 and 22 by Kallicharran and 69 and 35 by Carl Hooper.

In short, Chanderpaul, following Lloyd's example, is the second Guyanese to score a century in his first Test as captain. Furthermore, he became only the second captain in the lone history of Test cricket, dating back to 1877, to score a double century on his captaincy debut, emulating the New Zealander, Graham Dowling, who made 239 against India at Christchurch in February 1968.

It was Chanderpaul's maiden Test double hundred, eclipsing by far his previous highest Test score of 140 against India at Bourda in 2002. It was his fourth Test hundred there, more than any other Guyanese batsman. It was also the second highest Test score by a Guyanese at Bourda, thirty runs less than the 233 made by Hooper against India in 2002 when they shared a fourth-wicket partnership of 293.

Chanderpaul's double century was his twelfth Test hundred, making him equal with Kallicharran on the list of Guyanese with the greatest number of Test centuries. Presently he is below Lloyd (19 centuries), Kanhai (15) and Hooper (13).

Chanderpaul and his fellow double centurion, the Jamaican, Wavell Hinds, (213), became only the second pair of West Indian batsmen to score double hundreds in the same innings of a Test match. This enviable feat was first achieved by West Indians 47 years ago at Sabina Park in Jamaica in 1958 by the Barbadians, Garfield Sobers (365 not out, then the world's highest Test score) and Conrad Hunte (260). Their brilliant batting enabled the West Indies to amass a mammoth score of 790 for three wickets declared, still the region's highest Test innings total.

In contrast, at Bourda last week the West Indies made 543 for 5 declared, their highest score in a Test innings against South Africa, surpassing the 427 made at Capetown in the 2003-4 series. In short, this was the first occasion that the West Indies scored over 500 runs in an innings in 16 Tests against South Africa. This was sweet revenge, for in the first innings of each of the previous four Tests between the two teams South Africa had scored over 500 runs. Before that neither team had achieved a total of 500 runs in an innings in 11 Tests.

The recent Test at Bourda was one of the rare occasions that the West Indies led South Africa on first innings. In fact, it was the only occasion that the regional team seemed well-placed to gain an innings victory over South Africa in a Test.

The innings by Hinds and Chanderpaul were the highest ever by the West Indies against South Africa, surpassing the previous best score of 202 by Brian Lara at Johannesburg in 2003-4. No South African has yet scored a Test double century against the West Indies. Their most productive innings against the West Indies is 192 by Herschelle Gibbs at Centurion in 2003-4.

The partnership of 284 runs which Hinds and Chanderpaul shared is the highest by the West Indies for any wicket against South Africa, exceeding the 174 made by Chris Gayle and Ramnaresh Sarwan at Centurion in 2003-4. It was also a record for the fourth wicket in Tests between the two teams, surpassing the 249-run stand by Jacques Kallis and Gary Kirsten at Durban in 2003-04. Furthermore, it was the second highest partnership in Tests between the two sides for any wicket, falling 17 runs short of the 301 runs made by Graeme Smith and Herschelle Gibbs at Centurion in 2003-04.

The stand by Hinds and Chanderpaul was also the second highest partnership for the West Indies in Tests for the fourth wicket. It eclipsed the 283 runs made by Frank Worrell (261) and Everton Weekes (129) against England at Trent Bridge in 1950. It was, however, well short of the 399 runs put on by Sobers (226) and Worrell (197 not out) against England at Kensington Oval in Barbados in 1960.

At the conclusion of the recent Test Chanderpaul was given the Man-of-the-Match award. This game may turn out to be the last Test to have been played at Bourda, which seems destined to be replaced by 2007 as the local venue for Test cricket by the proposed stadium at Providence. In that event the recent match at Bourda against Graeme Smith's team will be truly historic.