Rallying with Hooper
March 9, 2001
THERE have been some big surprises indeed in the selection of the final West Indies team for the first cricket Test against South Africa starting today at Bourda.
None, of course, more surprising than the exclusion of both Jimmy Adams and Sherwin Campbell from the Test team and the appointment of Carl Hooper as captain for the current home series.
But what has been disappointing are not just the reservations expressed about Hooper's selection as captain but the harshness of the criticisms and personal castigation of this outstanding all-rounder.
Hooper is certainly guilty of indiscretions that his detractors can easily point to without having to be personal in their criticisms as if he has suddenly emerged as an intruder for the series against South Africa.
Cricket icons like Garfield Sobers and Michael Holding must have been terribly disappointed by the decision of the West Indies Cricket Board to have come out so sharply against the choice of Hooper as captain.
The outstanding cricket commentator and journalist, Tony Cozier has not been lacking either in pointing to what he considers lapses or indiscretions by Hooper.
All of his critics would, nevertheless, be also aware of the wide popularity the Guyanese-born captain enjoys among cricketing fans across this region and the Caribbean diaspora.
To judge from his outstanding performances in the just-concluded Busta Cup series, Hooper today is clearly a different cricketer and person, and the selectors, evidently pressed for an alternative, settled for the man they feel is best suited to lead the current home series against South Africa -- Hooper.
Guyanese are, naturally, quite happy with the choice of Hooper as skipper.
But it would be wrong to view it in a parochial context.
Hooper clearly has regional appeal and should be given the opportunity to prove himself as the leader of the West Indies team.
Our plea today at the start of the first Test is to rally around the West Indies under Hooper's captaincy and for him to be given time to prove his capacity in the challenging task at a period when there lingers much uncertainty about the future of West Indies cricket.
The last thing we need now is for a mood of divisiveness to be fanned by those who would know of the harm this could cause not to a single member of the West Indies team.
Rather, for the team as a whole and for that wider regional unity to which commitment is often affirmed.
We have noted Hooper's own gracious comments in response to some of the criticisms. It is encouraging to know, as he has publicly assured, that the criticisms would not have any negative impact on his leadership of the West Indies team.
We wish Carl and his team the very best and hope for an exciting first Test as we join in extending a warm welcome to the South Africans.