Hooper's life has turned around
- Dr Webster

By Tony Cozier
Stabroek News
March 7, 2001

Dr. Rudi Webster believes "something has happened in his life" during Carl Hooper's two years away from international that has led to his triumphant return to game.

"I think Hooper has realised that he really was an underperformer and he must have felt awful leaving cricket the way he did," the sports psychologist, once attached to the West Indies team, said of the new West Indies captain.

"I suppose in the last two years he must have had a lot of thinking to do," Dr.Webster added. "Obviously something has happened in his life that has made him refocus the way he has on his return."

"Quite often there is some person, or persons, in your life who can trigger off a response like that," he explained.

Some of those close to Hooper have spoken of the beneficial influence of Hooper's second wife, Constance, an Australian with whom he lived in Adelaide with their young son, Carl jnr., during his absence.

Hooper, 34, played 80 Tests and 182 one-day internationals before unexpectedly announcing his

retirement during the one-day series against Australia in April, 1999.

He made his return to West Indies cricket this season, shattering the tournament record with 954 runs in the Busta International Series and leading Guyana to the Shield final. He was named captain for the forthcoming home series against South Africa last week, replacing Jimmy Adams.

"Clearly Hooper came back with a mission and he has performed exceptionally well," Webster said. "There are lots of us who thought he couldn't do what he did and he proved a lot of us wrong."

But he warned that the "real test" would come in the Test series.

"That will tell us whether he can remained focused once the pressures at that level are placed on him," Webster said. "In the past, he has had a tendency to run away from pressure, to run away from captaincies, to run away from the wicket. That was his way of dealing with pressure."

"He is going to get pressure from the South Africans, pressure from the crowds and pressure that is going to build up within himself too," he noted. "He is now coming in as the saviour and people expect him to save West Indies cricket."

Webster saw the signs are "very promising".

"Even if the opposition was not that strong, with the Test players away, he has done what he has done (in the Busta) and showed powers of concentration and powers of persistence we hadn't seen before except in the odd match here and there."

"He showed them consistently over a period of nearly two months and demonstrated he's got those capabilities," he added.

"Whether or not, under the pressures of Test cricket, against a team like South Africa, he'll be able to continue along that path, we'll just have to wait and see."


I AM obliged to a caller from Barbados who pointed out that Roy Fredericks and Leonard Baichan were the last two left-handers to open in a Test for the West Indies, in Pakistan in 1975. It was not, as stated in my report yesterday, Fredericks and Ron Headley in England 1973. Chris Gayle and Wavell Hinds will, therefore, be the first left-handed West Indies opening pair in 26 years in the first Test against South Africa, starting Friday. (Tony Cozier)