Queen's Park Oval... my hunting ground The captain's view
by Carl Hooper
Stabroek News
April 19, 2002

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The poor weather that started in Georgetown, that ended the first test match prematurely has followed us here to Trinidad. We were told it has been raining for the past week and already the local cricket pundits are strongly urging me to field first if I win the toss.

Queen's Park Oval has always been a good hunting ground for me. I can remember getting 98 not out to win a test match for West Indies when all had seemed lost. This was in 1998 when West Indies were playing against England.

Given the fact that West Indies has had some of its most memorable victories here, I know the boys are looking forward to this test match.

The build up over the last two days has been unavoidably hampered by the rain. The practice wickets were soft so we were forced indoors onto the artificial cricket wickets, to fine tune our preparation. While personally not liking indoor nets, we made the most of it and both the bowlers and batters looked sharp.

It was good to see Ramnarine, Ganga and (Darrel) Browne who joined the squad for the practice sessions. They were there on the invitation of the Manager, Mr Skerrit and the move ought to be commended as too often players who were a part of the team for a number of test matches, find themselves left to their own devices, if unfortunately they were not selected for a home series.

The news that Mahendra Nagamootoo has a strained hamstring and will be out of the match here is a big disappointment to the team. This decision was made after he failed the fitness test and I am keeping my fingers crossed and hope that this is our first and last casualty in the test series. It is extremely important to our chances of winning this test series that we are able to pick from a full strength squad.

My first glimpse at the wicket was on Wednesday morning when I arrived for practise.

It looked good, a nice covering of grass and speaking to the head groundsman contained quite a bit of water. One of the things I have learnt during my period of Captain for West Indies and Guyana is to seek out the experienced local knowledgeables at the different venues as to their views on how they see the wicket playing.

I think sometimes it helps in your decision making as to whether to bat or field first.

Given the weather and the moisture that will be in the wicket I am sure that if the Indians win the toss they will most likely put us in to take the first strike.....

While I value the importance of the toss for the Test, I still maintain that if we can play good solid tight cricket for five days and the rain stays away, a West Indies victory is quite likely.

I am certain the Indians feel the same way!!!

I must mention I expect the Indian attack to be strengthened by the return of Harbhajan Singh. We had a brief look at him during our last tour to Zimbabwe, where we played against India and Zimbabwe in a Triangular Series (incidently- we beat India in the final!!). I know that Singh is a good bowler and it will be interesting to see how he enjoys bowling on our Caribbean pitches.

Good luck to Marlon Black, Nagamootoo's replacement for this important game and God willing a West Indies victory....

God Bless.