Hooper's christmas present

Comment by Donald Duff
Stabroek News
December 13, 1999

The news that retired West Indies all rounder Carl Llewellyn Hooper will play for Guyana in the 2000 Busta Cup competition is a Christmas present for those die-hard members of the Carl Hooper Fan Club.

Since his announcement that he planned to play a farewell season as a sort of repayment to the fans in the region for their decade long support, many cricket fans have bombarded this newspaper to find out whether Hooper would actually play for Guyana next year.

Now that he has confirmed he will play in the upcoming regional season, the questions will be asked whether Hooper is contemplating a return to international cricket or whether his decision to play for Guyana will be limited to one season alone and is based solely on the need to give something back.

If the latter is the case perhaps the Guyana Cricket Board can attempt to make the fullest use of the talented but temperamental all-rounder's naturally gifted skills and his obvious desire to improve the lot of young cricketers in the region.

Hooper himself should be lauded for his decision. Too often we find sportsmen that have benefited immensely from their participation in sports refusing to give something back or requesting payment if they did.

But Hooper has always been an unsung hero, a knight in shining armour to many young aspiring cricketers. Unobtrusively, in his own quiet manner - just as how he would snare a difficult slip catch with only the hint of celebration - he has been assisting the young and underprivileged cricketers in the region.

He has, however, not always been on the right side of the cricket authorities here. He has been criticised repeatedly for not being committed enough to the cause of Guyana's cricket development.

Hooper has had a long list of indiscretions and those, coupled with his mysterious decision to retire from international cricket on the eve of the important World Cup competition in England, suggested that he was undecided about his future.

Perhaps on his return to the region he will give a more detailed insight as to the reason(s) for his unexpected decision to quit international sport, the loss which we have all felt despite the fact that to many, he was an underachiever par excellence.

His Test batting and bowling averages of 33.76 and 47.01 respectively have prevented Hooper from being a highly respected cricketer worldwide though he was considered one of the most attractive, if not the most attractive batsman in world cricket.

"If batting was a beauty contest, Hooper would be Miss World," Malcolm Knox once wrote in the Sydney Morning Herald and there have been other favourable comparisons.

At the time of his retirement he needed just seven more wickets to join the list of West Indians who have scored over 4000 runs and taken 100 wickets or more in Test cricket.

He himself has always felt that he gave of his best to West Indies cricket but has not received adequate recognition for his efforts.

Come next year, however, as he makes his final rounds of the Caribbean perhaps the GCB can initiate discussions to repay the mercurial all-rounder with perhaps a benefit match or two for his unique contribution to Guyana and West Indies cricket.

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Guyana: Land of Six Peoples