Hooper enjoys Aussie alliance
By John Gwynne
September 13, 2003
IT is perhaps no surprise that Carl Hooper gets on well with Australians as he has a home in Adelaide.
And in Queenslander Stuart Law, the West Indian has found a perfect partner.
They barely knew each other at the start of the summer.
True, they had met a few times around the county circuit in previous years - Hooper playing for Kent and Law for Essex - but had never spent time in each other's company.
Now, the most prolific run-scoring partnership in the 2003 County Championship are the best of friends.
Together the veteran pair, with a combined age of 70, have scored almost 3 000 runs in first-class cricket for the Red Rose club, including 13 centuries and some mighty big partnerships.
They put on 247 against Leicestershire at Grace Road, 282 against Middlesex at Old Trafford and then surpassed them with a club record fifth-wicket stand of 360 against Warwickshire at Edgbaston.
Hooper's century in that match also enabled him to complete a full house, reaching three figures against all 18 first-class counties.
Law is almost there as well, needing only to reach three figures against former employers Essex to finish his collection.
CENTURIES 2003 Stuart Law 169 v Surrey 198 v Middlesex 236no v Warwickshire 186 v Leicestershire 144 v Middlesex 168 v Warwickshire 163 n.o. v Sussex Carl Hooper 101 v Durham UCCE 128 n.o. v Kent 117 v Leicestershire 201 v Middlesex 114 v Surrey 177 v Warwickshire
The mutual respect between the pair is obvious.
"Stuart is such a good player, it makes batting easier for me with him at the crease.
"If he had been other than Australian, he would still be playing Test cricket," said Hooper.
The former West Indies captain concedes that Law is the superior batsman against quick bowlers, but thinks he has the edge against spinners and so they complement each other perfectly.
"We have been able to rotate the strike so naturally. Bowlers have never been able to settle," he said.
Law believes Hooper's presence at Old Trafford has helped players like Mark Chilton and Mal Loye, who have also enjoyed prolific summers.
But he is also quick to acknowledge it as a big factor in his own success.
"Batting with Carl is a dream. He comes in, has a look around for a while and, once settled in, makes the job look easy.
"He's graceful but extremely powerful. The ones I can just about reach the rope with, he hits high into the crowd."
Law, who is hoping to become a naturalised British citizen and thus lose his overseas player tag, is most impressed by Hooper's temperament.
"He is never ruffled, whatever the situation, yet, behind that easy, laid-back manner there is a ruthless man.
"He doesn't just want to beat the opposition - he wants to pulverise them. And, boy, have I seen him do that this summer."
Both men return to Australia this winter, Law to play for Queensland, and Hooper to his adopted home in Adelaide.
Will they be back at Old Trafford next year? Hooper is keeping his cards close to his chest.
"It has been a wonderful experience, but no-one knows what the future holds. What will be, will be," he said.
The Lancashire faithful are hoping there will be another summer of Law and Hooper in 2004.
Whoever said there is no substitute for experience was obviously right. (BBC Sport)