Does Hooper talk too much?
By Pryor Jonas
September 21, 2002
I think he does. I know he doesn’t think so. But what do you think? My cornerstone is love. If you love your cricket as I do, if you love the West Indies too, and if you love Carl Hooper, the West Indies skipper as I do, then ponder over my question a while. Now read this and see if I will have changed your thinking one teeny little bit. One thing I know for sure is that you are not satisfied with West Indies cricket as it is today. No Caribbean person, man or woman, can be. But of course a Geoff Boycott can. Or a Bobby Simpson. Or even a Sachin Tendulkar. Despite - perhaps because of - our own Singulara. I’m grateful that it’s only now we in the cricketing Caribbean are beginning to realize what a genius Brian Charles Lara is. Remove Singulara from our team - and our skipper has been adversely critical of the only double-world-record holder more than once in print - and what do we have? Yes, it pleases me now to hear all the knowing ones acclaim our Trinidadian star, acknowledging him to be “irreplaceable”.
But no one is irreplaceable, you know. Please, young man, be sure of this - however “famous and indispensable” you may become as the years pass by, remember that no one is irreplaceable. What’s more, I do believe that even with Lara in our side, India will beat us this time. In India. Just as Pakistan beat us in Pakistan when Sobers and Kanhai were in their prime. The reasons, you know, are much more deep-seated than being merely physical, or mental, or return to our skipper, Carl Llewellyn Hooper. And let us remind those of us who have forgetful ears that there was only one single sportswriter who used to support him in the old days, when everyone barring Sir Vivian Richards (as he now is) but Vivi (as he then was to everybody), was crying for Hooper’s blood. Self advertisement (the Americans, true to form, put the accent on the TISE, so as to make the word almost onomatopoeic) is probably a good thing - especially in these days, when mediocrity is given the boost and promotion it so ill deserves. But you have to match your deeds with your words, don’t you think? The West Indies skipper is certainly not doing that. And I’m beginning to feel sorry for him as I once felt for Richie Richardson. Richardson was pushed into the captaincy. Carl Hooper wasn’t. But they both have a laid-back style that is alien to West Indian temperament. Mark Taylor’s Australia beat us here at home when Richie Richardson was captain, and Shaun Pollock’s South Africa beat us too when Hooper was skipper. Came 1996 and the Wills World Cup. Came February 29 when we were humbled and humiliated by Kenya. I will show you next week how a disappointed Richardson spoke out of turn. I am here and now pleading with the West Indies skipper to avoid too much speechifying until after our India tour.
The successful captains we have had in the past, beginning with Maurius Fernandes, ending with Vivi Richards, and including two who, in my view, are greater than either of these, namely Frank Worrell and Clive Lloyd, made a habit of speaking only after the series was over, when they had proved themselves to be worthy captains indeed. Better by far to be a gracious champ than a loser full of excuses.