Sir Vivian welcomes Hooper's return

Stabroek News
March 9, 2001

Former West Indies batting great Sir Vivian Richards yesterday fully endorsed Carl Hooper's return to the regional team and his appointment as captain. In the wake of criticism of the Guyanese's appointment by two of the team's past greats Sir Garfield Sobers and Michael Holding, Richards had a different view.

At a press briefing yesterday at the Le Meridien Pegasus Hotel, the Master Blaster of batting said Hooper will bring much needed class to the team's batting lineup after a premature retirement two years ago.

"We haven't seen many class individuals recently, notably in our batting," he said at the briefing to launch the West Indies versus South Africa series.

"I feel that Carl has been a little bit of an under-achiever. I believe this is Carl's second coming and I believe he will be most valuable in a team where we lack class at this point."

Hooper who was also present, said he is not fazed by the criticism of Holding and Sobers.

"Whatever Mr Holding and Mr Sobers have said has no bearing on what I do," Hooper said.

"I keep most of my thoughts to myself. My intentions were always to play for the West Indies again," he added.

Hooper, just off a phenomenal season in the Busta series where he scored 955 runs and took 24 wickets said, he feels fit and ready to take on the South Africans.

"I don't think it will be difficult as I have 12 years of international experience behind me and I have only been out for 18 months. I have nine or 10 (Busta Cup) matches behind me so I'm well prepared".

Playing before his home crowd at Bourda, Hooper expects some measure of inspiration and expressed confidence in attaining his goals.

The allrounder also pointed out that he does not expect himself or his teammates to experience any type of burn out as more than half of the squad are coming off a long period of regional and international competition.

Hooper and seven other players returned only Wednesday night from Jamaica where Guyana and the host country contested the Busta Shield final.

South African captain Shaun Pollock gave credit to West Indies' good record at home and said they are under-estimating the regional side, despite its 5-0 defeat to Australia Down Under earlier this year. He pointed out that his players are still fresh and raring to go despite a recent lengthy period of international competition.