Hoops aims to bring W.I. cricket out of the doldrums

From Frederick Halley in Jamaica
Guyana Chronicle
March 5, 2001

NEW West Indies captain, Guyanese Carl Hooper, is aiming to bring the region's cricket out of the doldrums which it has plummeted to over the last two years.

The enigmatic Hooper, who was appointed last week to lead the West Indies in the forthcoming Test and One-day series against South Africa, said here that he was a bit surprised to be given the prestigious job after not being around the Caribbean for more than 18 months.

The 34-year-old classy right-handed batsman feels the South Africans will not be as tough as the Australians were but opined that they are a very competitive side who play hard cricket.

The West Indies, under relieved captain Jimmy Adams, were soundly thrashed in Australia, going down 5-0 in the five-match Test series and also succumbing to the Aussies in the triangular One-day tournament which also involved Zimbabwe.

Given the fact that he was out in the "wilderness", Hooper said he has a short time to acquaint himself with the young players but doesn't see that as a major problem.

The experienced all-rounder, who has played in 80 Tests and 181 One-day Internationals for the West Indies, before his sudden retirement in 1999 during the Australian tour of the Caribbean, pointed out that he has a major role in the rebuilding of West Indies cricket.

In this regard, he intends to take each game at a time.

Hooper was non-committal as to how long he sees his tenure as West Indies captain but intends to "grab it and run".

Deemed an under-achiever by many cricket pundits, Hooper doesn't sees himself as such and is also not bothered by the adverse comments levelled against him over the years.

Hooper is excited over the young players who have been coming through recently and is hoping for continuity during the series against South Africa.

According to Hooper, while he is hoping for a good team effort, it is extremely important that he himself perform to the maximum.

In a record-breaking mood in this year's Busta Cup/Shield regional tournament, Hooper says he's more concerned about Guyana winning the Busta International Shield competition than copping the US$50 000 prize for the first batsman to reach 1 000 runs.

The classical Hooper started the Shield final with an aggregate of 889 runs and needs a further 111 to accomplish what would be a rare feat.

He has already surpassed Floyd Reifer's 756 which stood as the regional record and has also equalled Desmond Haynes' four centuries in a season, the most by any batsman.

He needs seven wickets to become the first West Indian cricketer to score 4 000 runs and take 100 wickets in both Test and one-day internationals.

Hooper is the fifth Guyanese to lead the West Indies, following in the footsteps of Maurius Fernandes, Rohan Kanhai, Clive Lloyd and Alvin Kallicharran.