Is Hooper lost to Guyana forever?
By Donald Duff
June 18, 2003
When Carl Hooper pulled out from the West Indies team to face Australia in the first Cable and Wireless Test match of the 2003 series here at Bourda, he may unwittingly have pulled the plug on his national career.
Despite the many instances when he failed to show up or showed up late to play for his country, Hooper has been a source of inspiration to the many young cricketers he has led during his stint as Guyana captain.
With Hooper at the helm Guyana has won or reached the finals of many regional competitions and he has led Guyana to victory in both the four-day and one-day regional tournaments.
In 1998, Hooper led Guyana to a share of the then President’s Cup four-day title with the Leeward Islands. And then, as if to show who were the true champions, the Hooper-led Guyana side whipped the Leewards by 52 runs in the final of the 1998 Red Stripe Bowl limited-overs competition.
Guyana under Hooper, has thrived and without him has not done so well.
In 1999, when Hooper was retired from international cricket, Guyana lost in the semi-finals of the Red Stripe Bowl One-day tournament.
The following year, after he had returned to international cricket, the team failed to make the final four. Hooper’s contribution was minimal.
But in 2001, Guyana whipped Barbados in the Red Stripe Bowl final.
They also ended the Busta Cup tied jointly in first place with Barbados on 57 points. However, Barbados were controversially declared champions by the West Indies Cricket Board (WICB).
Hooper when he played for Guyana has led from the front with both bat and ball and has fielded brilliantly as well.
Last year, Guyana travelled to Jamaica and captured the Busta International Shield from the Jamaicans with a first innings win avenging their previous year’s defeat.
Hooper’s most successful season for Guyana was undoubtedly the 2001 season when he amassed a record breaking 954 runs whilst leading Guyana to the final of the Busta International Shield tournament.
All this shows that Guyana has benefited from Hooper’s prodigious talents.
However, two recent events might be the reasons why `Sir Carl’s fans in Guyana and around the region might not see the mercurial all-rounder strutting his stuff any more on the cricket fields of the region.
The first is Lara’s appointment as captain of the West Indies to replace Hooper. Hooper was so upset with the decision that it was reported that he said he would not play under Lara.
The second is Ramnaresh Sarwan’s subsequent elevation to the post of vice-captain. It is the latter, Sarwan’s vice-captaincy appointment which puts a question mark on Hooper’s future.
There is no doubt that unlike the situation with Lara, Hooper would not hesitate to play under Sarwan with whom he has enjoyed the best of friendship.
It is no secret that Sarwan greatly admires Hooper.
Sarwan, like Hooper, is extremely gifted and would love to have a player like Hooper still in the team.
With the Red Stripe Bowl limited overs competition scheduled for September, one wonders whether the Guyana selectors will call up Hooper in the squad. If they do, will Hooper be named captain or will the selectors decide that Sarwan needs as much time as possible leading Guyana to help him prepare for the throne when Lara finally abdicates that position?
At the moment Hooper is very much in the thick of things in England playing for Lancashire in the English Leagues as Harbhajan Singh’s replacement.
But he did indicate that he has not given up on playing again for the West Indies although at the moment, that possibility looks to be quite far-fetched.
One thing is sure. Hooper as a cricketer still has plenty to offer Guyana’s cricket.
But does he still have the desire to play for Guyana after his obvious disappointment at being sacked as West Indies captain?
It is left up to Hooper to either indicate his availability for Guyana for the upcoming Red Stripe Bowl or for the selectors to name Hooper in the shortlisted squad to let it be known whether Carl Llewellyn Hooper is lost to Guyana and regional cricket forever.