"I missed Test cricket"- Hooper

Across the Board
Stabroek News
March 11, 2001

Guyana's Carl Hooper, returned to the West Indies cricket team recently after an almost two-year break andwas named to captain the regional side against South Africa. After batting on the first day of the first Test in front his home crowd at Bourda on Friday, he was interviewed for this column.

Q: How did you feel walking out to bat as captain especially after being away from the game for nearly two years and receiving that warm reception from the crowd?

A: "I was a bit nervous but after I went out there and hit a few balls everything just fell into place like old times."

Q: Coming back into West Indies cricket and being named captain must be like the proverbial dream coming true?

A: "I am very honoured and proud to be West Indies captain. West Indies cricket has a lot of rich history and I feel very privileged. Yes, it is the icing on the cake after playing well in the Busta Cricket Series and regaining West Indies selection."

Q: What motivated your return?

A: "From the time I retired I missed Test cricket - that's what I was doing for 12 years. I missed the guys - our friendships, playing cricket and all the atmosphere around Test cricket. It didn't take a lot for me to decided to play for Guyana again and to try and get a pick for the West Indies. It's turned out well so far and I have to make sure I push on from here."

Q: What was your reception like from other West Indies players?

A: "It was good. Obviously I haven't been around for a while and relationships take time to build but, I am sure, by the end of the season they will know where I stand and I will know where they stand."

Q: Your fans are ecstatic to have you back but you have critics too. How do you feel about the mixed reaction to your return?

A: "There's little I can say to convince my critics but I know I've got a lot of fans who have taken a lot of flak for me. Hopefully, they will see the best of me in the next few years. As long as I can hold up physically and I am not letting the side down, I would certainly like to play as long as possible."

Q: How hard will it be to inspire the team, especially after losing in Australia, and to settle in now that you are back?

A: "I don't think it will be that difficult. It helps to be playing at home where we have always been tough. I expect to get a lot of help from the senior players and it's just a matter of getting to know some of the younger players."

Q: How do you rate the South Africans?

A: "I think they are very good. They are the second best team in the world and they are a very talented and committed bunch. I expect them to give us a hard Test series."

Q: Does the West Indies have the ability and talent to overcome South Africa and are you concerned about the inexperience of some of our players?

A: "I believe so but we need to be committed and professional and to put in a lot of hard work in order to be competitive. We have young players, yes, but we also have players who have been around for a while: (Shivnarine) Chanderpaul, (Brian) Lara, (Ridley) Jacobs and, of course, (Courtney) Walsh and myself.

"I think it's a good blend of experience and youth. It's for us to guide the young ones who are now finding their feet in Test cricket."

Q: What minimal performance would be acceptable to you in this series?

A: "Obviously, I would love to win the series but I think we have to look beyond that. My main aim right now is to get this team to play to its full potential.

"I want us to be consistent in all areas of our cricket and to see a lot of thought going into it so we'll play better, particularly overseas. I would like to see the West Indies producing outstanding Test players again in the next three to four years - the Samuelses, the Sarwans et cetera."

Q: Our batting has been a problem but there are players who have done well regionally this season. How do you feel about this?

A: "Busta Cup cricket and Test cricket are two different things but I am optimistic that the guys who scored runs in the Busta series will carry the same form into the Test matches and do well. I was quite impressed with Chris Gayle today and I hope we see more of that positive approach."