Carl Hooper - Skipper by Pryor Jonas
Stabroek News
November 3, 2001

Carl Hooper is a better cricketer per se than Brian Lara. He can field better. He can bowl better. I am not fool enough to claim that he's a better bat. But Carl Hooper can bat; and though he can't bat as well as Singulara can, yet in all my years of watching cricket - whether at Bourda or elsewhere - I have seen no pair at the wicket, save Worrell and Weekes in full flow, or Sobers and Kanhai in 1968, who can match Hooper and Lara. And I'll, if pushed, still give this latter pair the difference....

It seems they're ready-made for each other. They do complement each other - if not perfectly, as nearly so that it doesn't matter. I did not see Roach and Headley - they were before my time - and would willingly bow to a seasoned veteran like my erstwhile friend, the late Jim Neblett, who maintained to the end that "Mas' George was peerless, especially with coach as his partner". Clifford Roach would open the innings for the West Indies and Headley would bat at #3, as he did here at Bourda in 1930. The record books show, in case you didn't know or had forgotten and wish to be reminded, that in 1930 at Bourda, when we beat England for the first time ever, Clifford Roach made a double in the first innings and George Headley a century in each innings. In the first innings, he was run out.

Roach had bagged a pair in the previous Port-of-Spain Test, and there were many even among his kinfolk who clamoured for his exclusion. But Guyana's `Maurice' Fernandes wanted the Trinidad opener, and since he was captain, he had his way. Learie Constantine has written how his Trinidadian colleague, on hearing of his selection cabled his thanks to the skipper for the confidence he reposed in him and promised that he would fight hard for his first hundred and, if he got it, then proceed to take his second; which he did. Incidentally, Jim Neblett, in my view, is the best coach Guyana has had so far. That's my considered opinion.

Jim toured England with the West Indies in 1933. We'll speak about him, Willie Woolford, Clyde Walcott, Robert Christiani and others in their coaching capacity, as occasion warrants, later on. But let's return to Hooper - the hitherto beleaguered Carl Llewellyn Hooper, now a favourite son of the Caribbean but not so long ago, an anathema, a `failure', a `flop', an 'underachiever'. Viv Richards was his only saviour. Yes, we're witnessing a lot of about-turns these days, aren't we? A veritable volte-face on every front almost! By Press and by TV particularly!! Who among us will easily forget Michael Holding's undisguised hostility which in the end boomeranged? At a certain point in Hooper's career he had very few sympathizers indeed - not only in the Press (you sort of expected this from the perennial harassment he endured), but even among the directorate of the WICB, itself.

Such treatment, I submit, was not only shameful but quite disgraceful. It persisted even when Hooper was made captain. But tell me, who made Carl Hooper captain anyway? Just for now, however, let me end this piece with a question for all those who know their cricket (for you can't claim to know the game and not its Laws), together with my answer and a personal comment. Question: If a captain for whatever reason is not available during the period in which the toss for innings should take place, who then can take the toss? Answer: Anyone can take the toss. Personal comment?

Poor Carl Hooper!