Ignore Hooper, Walsh and invest in youngsters
... says Fazir Mohammed

Guyana Chronicle
February 14, 2001

PORT OF SPAIN, Trinidad, (CANA) - Trinidadian commentator Fazeer Mohammed believes the West Indies selectors should ignore the claims of returning veteran Carl Hooper and invest in young players for the forthcoming South Africa tour.

The struggling West Indies return home this week from their frustrating losses on tour in Australia and Mohammed does not support a quick-fix approach to meet the strong South Africans.

Mohammed also questions the logic of Courtney Walsh's protracted career.

"It's time for the West Indies selectors to realise that we have got to go forward with the young players that we've got," Mohammed said, opposing calls for Hooper's return to the side.

"Hooper doesn't really figure in the picture at all as far as I am concerned. Not that he doesn't have ability, (he does) we've always known that.

"Okay he has had a great Busta Cup series but is he going to take the place of a (Marlon) Samuels, is he going to take the place of a Ramnaresh Sarwan, a Wavell Hinds, is he going to step - at 34 years of age - in front of someone who is on the way to establishing a long-term career for the West Indies?" Mohammed asked.

On the strength of form, Hooper, who retired from international cricket in 1999 but who has since said he wants to play Test cricket again, has strong claims for selection against South Africa, scoring an impressive 658 runs with three centuries from six matches in the 2001 Busta Cup.

Calls for Hooper to replace beleaguered Jimmy Adams as team captain and so preserving the positions of young developing players, is not a preferred option either for Mohammed, who watched the West Indies crash to a 5-0 Test series loss to Australia earlier this year.

"That would seem a straight forward swap. Jimmy Adams isn't performing with the bat and really has tremendous deficiencies as the captain and therefore there is no real loss in Carl Hooper taking his place.

"It may sound unusual that I would be advocating that Jimmy Adams be retained as captain given all his technical shortcomings that were so glaringly obvious on the tour of Australia.

"But these are unusual times in West Indies cricket, and at the moment more important than someone who can contribute runs and wickets and look flashy and flamboyant and maybe actually make a difference in terms of runs and wickets, what the West Indies need is strong leadership that they can respect.

"And at the moment, Jimmy Adams for all his shortcomings still in my estimation has the admiration, more importantly, the respect of the players simply because he is one of the few who can be said to give his all at all times, for the cause of the West Indies and in the present circumstances, I value that very highly," Mohammed said.

The 38-year-old Walsh struggled in Australia with only 11 wickets in five matches at an average of 43.72 runs per wicket, and Mohammed does not think the world record holder for Test wickets should be an automatic pick for the South Africa series.

"He is just six wickets away from establishing 500 wickets (in Tests) which is a remarkable landmark for anyone, but is he also standing in the way of a young fast bowler.

"And also with the fifth and final Test to be played in Jamaica, does it mean that Courtney Walsh will be playing in this series, for all five Test matches probably taking a few wickets along the way and maybe lifting himself for the occasion once again, but is he also standing in the way of some young fast bowler.

"It may sound painful, but we've got to swallow some bitter medicine at times," Mohammed told CANA.

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