Hooper...a shoo-in for West Indies captain

Orin Davidson's Eye on Sports
Stabroek News
January 21, 2001

If there ever was contest for the captaincy of the West Indies cricket team Carl Hooper would have been well on the way to a unanimous points decision among popular opinion.

In two short weeks since the beginning of the Busta Cup regional competition Hooper has had the pundits singing his praises from Bridgetown to St George's for his leadership of the Guyana team.

Not only has he impressed with astute on-field captaincy, Hooper has blazed a trail of impressive batting and bowling performances in an altogether superb exhibition of the all-round cricket ability.

Such an awesome display speaks volumes for the man who has often been criticised for not optimising his full batting potential in 12 years for West Indies up to his abrupt retirement in 1999.

That retirement, he has hinted was in part, among other problems due to his removal from the vice-captaincy of the team at the time.

Now he is back and proving the West Indies Cricket Board's folly for a decision that has contributed to it returning to haunt not only the executive and the thousands of regional cricket fans but also to disappoint many cricket knowledgeables the world over.

West Indies disastrous performances over the years up to the current debacle in Australia is as a result of woeful batting skills and lack of intense desire by the new generation of West Indian players to succeed. Those deficiencies are exacerbated by substandard captaincy of which Jimmy Adams is the latest offender.

In less than one year since his elevation to the helm, Adams has failed to produce the necessary tactical skills on the field to make up for the other team weaknesses for better Test series results against Pakistan and England and for a less humiliating margin of defeat against Australia.

Adams has displayed all the attributes of a good ambassador during his tenure as captain for the regional team. He is well spoken, straight laced and intelligent.

But he has failed to measure up in the most important capacity he was selected and appointed for....that of captain and batsman on the field of play.

His limitations in field placing, use of bowlers and general all-round game knowledge has cost West Indies better results than the 1-0 win over Pakistan and the 3-1 and 5-0 defeats by England and Australia, suggest.

The horrendous batting display in the 5-0 loss to Australia was due in part to the failings of the players expected to carry the brunt of the efforts through their experience. And in that capacity, Adams, apart from being captain and second only to Brian Lara in Test match experience, could not lead by example and badly let down down his team as did Sherwin Campbell and to a lesser extent Lara.

On the contrary, Hooper who has led Guyana with distinction since he assumed the captaincy five years ago, has continued his successful trend and proving to the WICB that they have the ideal captain/batsman/bowler to launch the team's revival.

His 159 scored against Barbados alone convinced many Barbadians that he is ready to be reunited with his WI teammates in competition as he expertly guided his inexperienced squad past the huge 400 plus home team's total for first innings points.

Many will remember his clever exhibition of leadership when his tactics invariably led to the demise of batsmen who threatened to post a much larger total with an inexperienced bowling attack missing Reon King, Colin Stuart and Mahendra Nagamootoo.

He had led by example by bagging three wickets to add to his splendid batting performance.

In Antigua Hooper's masterpiece move in using Ramnaresh Sarwan who bowled Guyana to within a hair's breadth of an improbable outright victory over the Leeward Islands, was the move of a master tactician at work.

Here was a 20-year-old known only for his batting and in his first match after a disastrous tour of Australia, being motivated by his captain to such heights that he took six wickets for less that 50 runs, bowling for only the second time in his first class career.

That level of cricketing intelligence displayed by Hooper is the ideal prescription for the struggling West Indies.

Coupled with his batting and bowling ability, Hooper should be a hands down winner for the captaincy position when the WICB meet to make that important appointment for the South Africa tour.

His performances so far in the Busta Cup ought to silence the doubters who feel it is retrograde to bring back the Guyanese.

On the contrary it would be a backward step to retain Adams who should seriously consider the advice of Easton McMorris, his compatriot and former West Indies player, to take a rest from international competition

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