Hooper is best man to lead Windies
... says Sir Vivian Richards

By Brij Parasnath
Guyana Chronicle
March 9, 2001

SIR Vivian Richards, former Leewards and West Indies captain and coach, says that Carl Hooper is the most knowledgeable person to lead the regional team at this time of rebuilding.

The legendary `Master Blaster', probably the most feared batsman the world has ever seen, expressed his support for Hooper and declared that not many people appreciate the greatness of his former team-mate.

Speaking yesterday at the Le Meridien Pegasus, Richards, who set an unprecedented record of never losing a Test series, including twenty-seven wins against eight losses from fifty Tests, made his position quite clear when he said: "I am fully behind Hooper in his new role as captain of the West Indies team. He is the most knowledgeable and experienced person to lead West Indies at this time of the rebuilding process. I am supporting him one hundred per cent and he will surprise many people.

"Hooper faces a new challenge as captain of the team but I feel confident that he will rise to the occasion, Richards quipped. "He is great thinker and knows this game more than many who have been jumping up and speaking all manner of things."

Hooper played under Richards and the former skipper stressed that: "Many people do not understand Carl Hooper. He is a silent man but has a very strong character.

He has indepth knowledge of this game and he can evaluate a player and a game situation very quickly. He is indeed a great asset to West Indies cricket and I am happy to see him back. He will be able to inspire the younger players. He is very versatile and will add strength to all areas whether batting, bowling and containing the best batsmen or fielding."

Richards felt that Hooper had retired prematurely. He stated: "When Hooper retired with all the pressures on him, I felt that he had left prematurely. And probably if someone who was close to the team, whether player or senior official had spoken to him, he might have reconsidered his position.

But that's all in the past and we have to go forward. He has returned and he has shown great commitment. He is leading by example. He is fit and focused and if the players support him and give of their best, West Indies will be very competitive."

Hooper emerged as the `Most Valuable Player' of the just-concluded Busta Cup and Busta International Shield. He became the region's new aggregate record holder with 954 runs for an average 95.40. He also claimed 25 wickets and snared 11 catches - the best ever all-round performance by any regional player.

He became the first regional captain to score seven centuries for the respective regional team. Richards who led the Leeward Islands in his heyday and Jamaica's Maurice Foster were the previous joint-holders with six each. In addition, Hooper has chalked up an impressive leadership record for Guyana having never lost a four-day game in the regional first class tournament.

Today, Hooper will enter his name in the record books as the fifth Guyanese after Marius Fernandes, Rohan Kanhai, Clive Lloyd and Alvin Kallicharran to lead the West Indies. He will also become the twenty-sixth player to captain West Indies at Test cricket.

Richards expressed his confidence in the West Indies team and said that: "the team should be very competitive and do well in the series against the South Africans. The visitors have done well recently but they will find our boys ready to give of their best.

We have Brian Lara who will also inspire the batsmen with his world class talent and there is Courtney Walsh whose experience and knowledge will be of great help to the fast bowlers. It is nice to have both Lara and Walsh in the team. They will add greater overall strength and the transition should be better," the Master Blaster said.

Both teams will be battling for supremacy and the Sir Viv Richards Trophy will be contested between the teams from now on.