Hooper about to silence the critics

Orin Davidson's Eye on Sports
Stabroek News
March 18, 2001

Having ridden the storm of protest over his appointment as captain of the struggling West Indies team, Carl Hooper is now moving towards silencing the critics with a promising start to his leadership of the West Indies team.

It may be too early to make pronouncements on Hooper's captaincy after only one Test in the current South African rubber, yet it is worthwhile to note the calm efficient manner in which he went about his job at Bourda.

In the same calm unperturbed manner as he undertakes his batting, Hooper has been similarly professional in the manner that he took hold of a young team at the shortest possible notice, despite the horribly overdone criticism by ex-Windian Michael Holding.

In his ugly show of protest, Holding's words and protest action to Hooper's appointment, the ex-fast bowler sent down a beamer with an intensity that could only have wreaked more damage than produce success, he claims he desires for the team against the touring South Africans.

In addition to the presence of three of his young compatriots from Jamaica in the team, everyone else in the side would have intense respect for whatever Holding does or says because of the huge reputation he created as a great fast bowler for the team.

Those impressionable young minds may yet be polluted by Holding's irrational show of bias in thrashing Hooper's appointment.

His public ranting against players in the team touched many raw nerves here in Guyana following his outburst on Reon King's performance during the recent West Indies tour of England, and leaves one with the sickening feeling that the great fast bowler is beginning to turn on the very team he brought glory to, in like manner he created havoc on opposing batsmen in accumulating his 249 test wickets.

Everyone is entitled to free speech and moreso celebrities of Holding's stature are sometimes given limitless boundaries, yet one must display a sense of responsibility. But sadly Holding has stepped far over that line.

Brian Lara, who once was his prime target, is not faultless, neither is Hooper and no one can object to King being scolded even though he is a newcomer. But it does not mean that players must be insulted as the latter two have been subjected to by Holding's crazy temper, especially when his behaviour was never saint-like during his international career.

We need not rehash the New Zealand kicking incident nor his involvement in the Kerry Packer affair, as the deeply hurt West Indian public have already contradicted Holding's actions by pointing out those dark areas of his career via letters to this newspaper.

Nevertheless, Hooper is soldering and proving to the world that his Busta Cup/Shield handling of the Guyana team is the beginning of a new player.

It might still be premature in assessing Hooper's work with the Test team, but one cannot help marvelling at the skill he displayed in reviving his team's first innings when another collapse seemed a formality at Bourda, in marshalling his bowling to restrict South Africa's reply and bringing out the best of Ramnaresh Sarwan in the second innings.

Before yesterday Wavell Hinds had never bowled a ball in Test cricket, yet Hooper's magical instinct made him call the Windies opener into the attack to break a crucial partnership and to later remove another dangerous batsman.

It is a pity Holding never thought that captaincy skills don't matter much by advocating that any of the other players could have been chosen to lead the team from a selected 11, excluding Hooper.

In these days of intense competition of high standards displayed by a growing number of countries, Holding and his fellow critics will soon learn to appreciate the value of a capable captain who can lead from the front. low critics will soon learn to appreciate the value of a capable captain who can lead from the front.