Hooper has lots to offer
--Clive Lloyd

by Orin Davidson
Stabroek News
February 1, 2001

As debate rages across the region on the merits of the return of former West Indies vice captain Carl Hooper to international competition, ex-captain Clive feels the Guyanese still has lots to offer the regional team.

Lloyd hinted to Stabroek News last Monday in Grenada that it might not be a bad idea for the West Indies Cricket Board to recall Hooper in light of the team's poor results, but feels that the player's position must be spelt out clearly.

"He has got to make up his mind on exactly what he wants to do. The West Indies Board will have take a long look and think on whether he is somebody we need there, whether he is going to be a plus to the side. But he is still one of the best players we have and it is unfortunate he had to leave, really and truly and we do need people with ability and he has got a lot of it," Lloyd declared.

Even though Hooper's career statistics have been condemned by pundits, Lloyd maintains that the Guyanese has got the ability now to do well.

"Carl Hooper is a tremendous cricketer and we tend to think that he is only a batter. He is not only a batter, he is a great fielder and an excellent bowler. He has done great service for us. People might think that he is an underachiever, yeah he might not have made a lot of centuries as he should, but he has a part to play," Lloyd emphasised.

"If you are good enough you are good enough and at the moment we don't have a lot of top class players and he might still add something to our batting," the former Windies skipper pointed out.

The Guyanese all-rounder now resident in Australia, has impressed with his captaincy of Guyana in the current Busta Cup and is a hot favourite to replace Jimmy Adams as captain after the regional team lost eight of its last nine test matches in England and Australia.

Hooper was among regional players deemed ineligible for selection for the current tour of Australia even after coming out of retirement to captain Guyana in the Red Stripe Bowl one-day competition last year, because of not playing enough in the region..

Outstanding Barbadian all-rounder Vasbert Drakes who plays in South Africa is another key player denied a place because of the West Indies Cricket Board's eligibility rule, which Lloyd is critical of.

It is an area he feels the ruling body should be less rigid with and apply some flexibility.

"You can't have the hard and fast rules, or else we are going to miss out on a lot a good players. As they say here (Shell Academy launching) people may want to improve their education because if it doesn't happen with cricket you have something else. You cannot deny people, the rules must be flexible, if you are not you are going to run into problems. You cannot tell the Englishman he has to play all the games, he would't be able to, because he can get injured. And I feel if a guy cannot come for all the games, you must be able to accommodate", the former batting great stressed.

Lloyd said he appreciates the concern of sponsors who might want the best players compete, but pointed out that the problem would be greater if the players interests are not satisfied.

"You could easily lose players and now that we have other games, people could easily gravitate to other sports, you have to be more sensitive to things," Lloyd stated.

Touching on the establishment of the Shell Academy of St George's University for youth players 18-23 years launched on Monday, Lloyd said it is a step in the right direction.

But he warned that the selection process be carefully thought of to select the right participants.

"If you can give those players the skills needed for professional cricket we must find the right people who want to move ahead in their careers and not just pick people willy nilly," he suggested. "People coming to the academy must be winners and who want to improve our cricket and themselves".

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