A postive start is vital The captain's view
by Carl Hooper
Stabroek News
April 11, 2002

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Today we begin the first of a series of articles by West Indies cricket captain Carl Hooper on the West Indies versus India Test series. The stories will preview and review each of the five Tests.

I'm really happy that Guyana won the Busta International Shield. The game was played hard and the pressure out in the middle was quite intense, but I always felt that we would have come through in the end. I would like to extend my heartiest congratulations to leg spinning all rounder Mahendra Nagamootoo on his record breaking feat of becoming the first West Indian bowler to take 50 wickets in a season of the region's first class cricket competition. He has bowled well and deserves his recall to the Test arena.

Before I turn my attention to the first Test let me digress a bit and talk about the camp for the 22 member West Indies team held in Trinidad. The camp saw four new faces that we had not seen before in a West Indies camp. Those faces belonged to Devon Smith the exciting left handed batsman from the Windward Islands; Adam Sanford, the tall medium fast Dominica born bowler from the Leeward Islands in his debut season; the Jamaican Darren Powell and Runako Morton. It was good to have Sir Garfield Sobers at the camp among the lads sharing his ideas and views.

This camp, unlike previous ones, did not deal too much with the physical aspect of the team's preparation in the form of exercises and so on. Rather, it was more mental. Sir Garfield tried to drive home to point of players being able to think on their feet, to use their brain more, when playing the game.

This was also emphasized by team coach Roger Harper and one of the ways he addressed this, was to have a number of simulated matches which gave situations where you had to decide whether you wanted to bat out or chase the runs. I thought that was a big plus and certainly went a long way towards preparing us for the first Test match at Bourda.

Now for the Test match. It is very important for us that we start this series on a positive note. For the most part, it is good to be able to have a full strength side to take the field given our current run of injuries lately.

I think that the upcoming five Test matches and even the one day series, which will follow, starting with the first test here in Guyana, will be exciting given the nature of the two teams.

When you look at the history of Test matches played at Bourda, it would be fair to say that the bat usually dominates the ball and this time around, I expect it to be no different. Having said that, I feel that if the match is not affected by rain there will surely be a result. I noticed with great interest the Indian team's performance against a Guyana President's XI in the three day game at Everest and, without reading too much into the performances of the batters and bowlers and the eventual outcome, nonetheless I was happy to see that they were kept in check no big hundreds etc.

I have always enjoyed playing against the Indians either here in the Caribbean or at Eden Gardens in Calcutta. Their style of cricket is free flowing and exciting with the likes of Sachin Tendulkar, Rahul Dravid, Saurav Ganguly, and VVS Laxman.

And while I hope that the Caribbean cricketing public will get a chance to see these exciting players in full flow, I hasten to add that the result a West Indies victory is of the utmost importance.

The match up of players like Tendulkar/Brian Lara, Dravid/Shivnarine Chanderpaul and Merv Dillon/Javagal Srinath not forgetting Anil Kumble, Harbajhan Singh, Zaheer Khan and our own Cameron Cuffy, Sanford, Marlon Black and the record breaking, highly confident Nagamootoo, has certainly whetted the appetite of the fans and I hope they turn out in large numbers to support the team throughout the tour.

I expect the weather to hold up and I know that the ground is in good shape and ready for this important first test match. I couldn't help but notice the many overseas based Guyanese and former cricketers around the city, all here, I suppose, for Easter and the cricket.

As captain of the West Indies side, I am totally aware of the expectations of the Caribbean cricketing public. I know that our record in recent times has been poor but I urge them to continue the support as progress is being made.

I want to welcome back Stuart Williams and Junior Murray and new boy Sanford. I would also like to congratulate Williams on his record breaking season with the bat.

I will also take this opportunity to offer a special welcome to the Indian cricket team to our shores and to wish them good luck in the upcoming series. But I'm sure they would understand if I say not too much luck. To the fans enjoy the test and one day series.

God Bless!