March 5, 1998
There is no batsman in the world and there never has been any who has been subjected to the persistent bashing that Carl Hooper has to put up with by the sports media. No matter how well he has batted or is batting, commentators and writers for some ungodly reason persist in making unending references to his unfulfilled potential. For almost every great shot he plays or good innings he puts together some reference has to be made to past conceived let downs. In this regard, the Guyana public is not without blame. I recall one eminent citizen saying when Guyana lost to Trinidad in the 1996 Shell Sandals one-day final, that Hooper should not be allowed to come back to Guyana.
In the second Test, of the current tour, when Hooper was bowled by Angus Fraser, one English commentator announced that "Hooper had found a new way of getting out. It was however, universally accepted that, the ball that bowled Hooper was a stinker, virtually unplayable.
But the most unkindest cuts of all were to be found in two articles appearing in the Stabroek News, one by Tony Cozier and the other by an un-named author. Mr Cozier in showering praises on Hooper never-the-less had to inject the bashing: "Combining the enormous talent with which he has been blessed, with ten years experience, the responsibility of Vice-Captain and the patience that has so frequently deserted him?" Then further in the same article he continued "No bowler could induce him into the silly indiscretions that has so often cost him his wicket and made him such an infuriating enigma". Could Mr Cozier not have said - no bowler could induce him into any indiscretion which would have cost him his wicket and the West Indies the match. In the other article quoted from (CANA) out of Port-of-Spain the author inferring that Hooper owed some debt, went on to say "but one repayment is nothing to do a song and dance about. Hooper remains on the debit side of West Indian cricket and must keep making regular deposits to erase his debts."
In the case of Mr Cozier, regardless of all the good thing he has said about Hooper from time to time, he has never been a fan of Hooper. There are other media personnel who have been equally hostile to the man, some even wanted him dropped. Of course, some of them have their own agendas. They have their own people to put in. The English too would like to see Hooper off the scene so that they can introduce their spinners. I can excuse them but I cannot excuse the West Indies.
They must come out now and say what debts he owes. Is he the only batsman who is in debt? They must put him on a level playing field with the others, say what they expect of each including Hooper and say how they can repay. Has anyone worked out how many times he has been run out, how many times he has been not out, how many times he has been out to good balls and compare these with the indiscretions? They must look at the other parts of Hooper's game. What about his value as a bowler in spite of Mr Boycott's lollipops theory. Is he expected to be a strike bowler? He is not, but he bowled over thirteen hundred and fifty overs for the West Indies at less than three runs per over. Is that lollipop bowling? He has taken some 75 plus catches less only than Richards, Sobers and Lloyd, all of whom have played far more matches and Hooper is an outstanding fielder. On the occassions he captained his country, he showed good knowledge of the game and competence as a captain. What more do these bashers want? And it is time that Guyanese and Caribbean sports writers, commentators and the public become more vocal in their support for Hooper.
Now there is a persistent rumour that Hooper is having problems with the Guyana Cricket Board. It is said that the Board wants him to pay his own expenses when he comes home to play for Guyana . There can be no justification for this. Hooper lives and makes his living in Kent. He is a recognised international figure. He does not have a home here, but Guyana wants him to play for Guyana. In fact Guyana needs him to play for Guyana and its Cricket Board should be more than willing to provide him with generous conditions rather than have this kind of quarrel with the man. Was this one of the reasons for his not coming for the Guyana/England match?
There is also a more worrying rumour. It is said that Carl tried to acquire a plot of land in Guyana for erecting a house, but was given the royal run around by the powers that be. He gave up the idea in frustration. He has apparently decided to live in Trinidad. Oh for a Forbes Burnham. In Burnham's time Hooper would hardly have had to apply for land, he would have been offered land.
Is a prophet still not without honour except in his own country? Could we have the truth about all of this.