On Hooper - and Captaincy By Pryor Jonas
Stabroek News
September 8, 2001

Betrayal or bewrayal - which? You would hardly have known it, except my bosses had told you, but these past three weeks I was on holiday. In London of all places! My favourite daughter funded both my return fare and my boarding. Good for her, don't you think - moreso when I tell you that it's 37 years - yes, a generation ago - since I last visited England. Speaking more truly, I would say it was a busman's holiday really, because I spent most of the time reading, not just sport but on my other two loves: education and religion; and visiting - not just Lord's and the Oval, but Hamilton court and Speakers' Corner and my old digs in West End Lane. Believe me, too, there's nothing like travel and travelling. You don't just read. You also hear - and see, personally.

Somehow Kipling's celebrated lines frequently came back to me in London: "what do they know of England, who only England know". Rudyard Kipling, remember, like myself, was not born in England. But we were brought up to imbibe the British spirit of Drakes and Raleigh, Nelson and Wellington. What a free spirit it is, bestowing what to me are the three greatest freedoms man can win: the freedom to educate one self regardless of prevailing circumstances; the freedom to follow or not one's own (non) religious bent and pay the consequences thereof; and what to me is the greatest of the three, the freedom to work assiduously towards self-fulfilment. It's this last which brings me willy-nilly to Carl Llewellyn Hooper. Hooper is now captain of the West Indies at cricket. Let me say it again for those who have conveniently short memories; and, please, gentlemen, don't challenge me to dig up my records.

Carl Llewellyn Hooper of Christchurch Secondary, of Demerara, of Guyana, of Kent and of A.N.Other is captain of the West Indies. Mark you, let me say this at this juncture: I do feel that right here in our midst there are two players who, if given the chance, would make a better captain than Sir Carl. No, Jimmy Adams is not one of them! I am speaking of cricketers who merit their place in the side but who because of our endemnicity - you would say 'insularity' but I prefer the stronger, more all-embracing term, and I'm not using a neologism, believe me - were not given a break. I will give you their names some time. One of them, I know, is doomed forever now in Test cricket.

But not the other. Yes I back, and as you well know, have ALWAYS backed Hooper ... 'Carl Llewellyn Hooper'. For the rest of this year, therefore, I'll be writing on Sir Carl, criticising him, of course, when he goes palpably wrong as he is even now (as in the way he treats Wavell Hinds, for instance), but ever praising him for being a true professional. "There's a job there to be done. I believe I can do it but am not going to push myself to contempt by asking you for it when you know I can do it. But when you give it to me, as some time you will, you will see." A beleaguered Mr Hooper was duly given the job. His selection was controversial and he, himself, did do a few odd things, it is true. But he has done the job and has done it well. Yes - despite the odds - odds that were not confined to his Management team in the field (comprising Rhodes scholar Ricky Skerritt and his bete - noire Roger Harper and his British 'Kagaj') on to the triumvirate of selectors at home, all of whom should have resigned without my bidding them to as I am now doing.

They have persisted in their refusal to learn from Lance Gibbs and history but from their ivory towers have consistently ignored the W.I. skipper's plea that we give our world-record holder the chance we didn't give Lance. - More of this later.