Hooper leading by example
-Sir Vivian Richards

Stabroek News
December 8, 2002

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"HE hobbled and he wobbled" on two damaged knees but chairman of selectors Sir Viv Richards says captain Carl Hooper set an example in the recent one-day series in India that inspired his young players to their 4-3 triumph.

"A lot of people may knock the captain for not producing in terms of statistics, given his known capabilities," the chairman of selectors said yesterday. "But knowing the pain-barriers he went through just to be with his young team was a huge plus."

"He wasn't at his best but it's not all the time you're going to be 100 per cent," Richards added. "The thing is you can still get along if you work to certain plans, and Carl was totally remarkable in that category."

Hooper soldiered through the Test series and six of the seven matches with a painful and swollen right knee and a left knee that also became gradually more inflamed.

He had successful corrective surgery in Adelaide, Australia, last Friday and is expected to fully recover in time for January's preparatory camp for the World Cup in South Africa February 9 to March 23.

"As captain, he gave the younger players some indication of what it takes to perform at the highest level," the former captain observed. "Brian (Lara), the premier batsman, world-renowned, class in abundance, wasn't there and seeing how some of the young individuals stepped up to the plate was remarkable."

Richards, who was appointed last May in succession to former chief selector Mike Findlay, accompanied the team throughout its triangular tour of Sri Lanka, for the ICC Champions' Trophy, India and Bangladesh. He leaves for home tomorrow after the first day of the opening Test against Bangladesh.

"This was a kind of fact-finding trip for me," he explained. "You can pick a team at home, thousands of miles away, and not quite know what kind of tourists the individuals are, and I mean that in an overall sense."

"Being here has given me an insight into the things we are looking for in the future," he said.

When he returns, he will be making, "certain recommendations" to the West Indies Cricket Board (WICB) and to his fellow selectors about what he believes necessary to make the team as strong as it can be.

Another new selector, Richards' former team-mate, Gordon Greenidge, was also on the tour of India and the three one-day internationals in Bangladesh as television analyst.

Richards saw some "positive signs" in spite of the 2-0 loss to India in the three-Tests series.

"We were totally outplayed in the Tests we lost and I have no quarrel with that," he said. "What did spark a little light was how we came back after we were 2-0 down."

"We've had West Indies teams in the past that would have totally crumbled, sliding down that slippery slope, so it was nice to see the way we came back in Calcutta (to draw the third Test), the way we held our composure."

Even though the West Indies didn't win the Test, Richards noted, it meant they had stopped the rot and they carried a positive attitude into the one-day series.

"To play in that sort of tournament against India in India is no easy task but they got themselves collectively ready for the encounter and kept their focus and their form," he said. "It was great to see. Now they have to keep on going."

Richards was especially delighted with how the young batsmen responded to the challenge after failing in the first two Tests.

"At times we were in hiccup situations chasing big totals," he said. "That used to be our downfall, not knowing how to handle such a job, but any West Indian seeing how they did it in India would have been proud."

There was "a lot of ability" in the emerging batsmen but consistent success required more.

"It all depends on how committed you are and what your capabilities are," he said. "But I think we're on the right track."

The bowlers found it harder than the batsmen on pitches that, according to Richards, "were not that fast-bowling friendly".

"But I think that, having played in these conditions against some of the best batsmen you can find in world cricket and used wisely enough, the young fast bowlers should benefit from the experience," he stated.

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