Hooper regrets his unavailability

by Orin Davidson
Stabroek News
January 6, 2000

"I'm disappointed, really disappointed," were the words of Carl Hooper last evening when asked to describe his feelings in not being able to represent Guyana in this year's Busta Cup cricket competition.

In a telephone interview from his home in Adelaide, Australia Hooper said his main interest in cricket now is to give something back to sport in Guyana, but due to a last minute decision by his club Carlton , he will be unable to do so for this year's competition.

"I was given a verbal consent by the chairman of the club six weeks ago but then it boiled down to a discussion between the committee members and after a number of meetings they said I could not be released," the talented all-round explained.

Hooper said the club feels that playing for Guyana was not important enough for him to be released, adding that they would have consented for a West Indies engagement.

"But they do not want to hear much about me coming home to play for Guyana," he pointed out.

However, the former West Indies vice captain states that he is not thinking of playing for West Indies again. "Basically my position has not changed since I retired," Hooper said, rebuffing speculation that his ultimate intention was to regain his place in the regional team by first playing for Guyana this year. "The problems of West Indies cricket are deep, it goes beyond the players and the captain, our cricket needs rebuilding and restructuring and I don't think my return will help very much," the former GCC player explained.

He said West Indies cricket is `poor' generally and feels that whoever captains the team also will not make much of a difference. `A captain may have the best strategy but if he does not have the players to execute, the results will not improve," Hooper emphasised.

He said the poor state of West Indies cricket is reflected in their recent Test series loss to New Zealand. "If it were against Australia, South or even the Pakis, you would feel bad, but against New Zealand one would have expected better results," he said."I can understand the way the players feel, I felt it in South Africa," he added.

Hooper said because of his love for the game and his desire to see Guyana do well, he even thought about opting out of his present contract with Carlton. The strokemaker pointed that he will make every effort to return for next year's Busta Cup and possibly for the Red Stripe Bowl limited overs tournament later this year.

He said his contract with Carlton is for six months and if he accepts one for next year he will ensure that a clause is included to allow him to be released before he signs.

Hooper who was appointed captain for Guyana, will be replaced by Neil McGarrell at the helm while middle order batsman Andre Percival will take his place in the 13-man squad, the Guyana Cricket Board stated in a press release.

The release said that despite Hooper's best efforts, several calls to the club's management by GCB president Chetram Singh and an appeal by West Indies Cricket Board president Pat Rousseau, he was released.

Singh expressed deep disappointment at Hooper's unavailability stating, "We had hoped that with so many inexperienced players in the side that Carl would have been available to give guidance and leadership." Singh stated that the Board is convinced Hooper was anxious to play and that Guyana will benefit from his availability in the future.

Guyana will play Barbados from tomorrow at the Kensington Oval in barbados tomorrow and Percival is due to leave today. The party under coach Clyd Butts and manager Pat Legall flew out yesterday morning.

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Guyana: Land of Six Peoples