Mixed reactions to Hooper's selection

Tony Becca , Senior Sport Editor

26 Feb 1998

CRICKET: Georgetown: The selection of Guyanese Carl Hooper in the West Indies 13-man squad for the fourth Test against England starting at Bourda tomorrow has been greeted by different reactions in Georgetown - most of them underlining the racial conflict which exists in this South American country.

The reactions vary from those who believe that after failing to represent Guyana on so many occasions and then ignoring the request of the West Indies selectors to play in the Guyana/England match, Hooper should be dropped, those who believe that as a professional he has a right to choose when to play and when not to play, and those who believe that having failed in the past to penalise Brian Lara for his many indiscretions, the selectors cannot now touch Hooper.

There are also those who believe that the West Indies have a Test match and a series to win and regardless of what, the best team must be selected. And then there are those who have said flatly: ``You must be crazy. They cannot drop Hooper in Guyana.''

The selection of Hooper in the squad does not necessarily mean that he will be in the final eleven. The fact that he is in however, suggests that he will play - despite the angry mood of the selectors as represented by chairman Wes Hall who is quoted as saying that a report will be made to the Board.

Following the disappointing performances by the West Indies batsmen in the second and third Test matches, captain Lara said that the batting of both teams was poor, that the team which bats better would win the series and that the West Indies batting needed to be improved. And coach Malcolm Marshall asked the selectors to ensure that all the batsmen whose teams had matches leading up to the fourth Test should play, the selectors instructed them to do so, and with the exception of Hooper - the captain of Guyana - they all played.

``I consider it totally unacceptable that a member of the team, and the vice-captain at that, should not abide by the wishes of the coach,'' said Hall on Tuesday. ``It is a flagrant dereliction of duty and a breach of authority.''

The question therefore is why is Hooper in the squad?

Is it that the selectors, and the captain, also feel that there is a match and a series to be won? Or is it that the selectors the same selectors who have always insisted that the Board should not interfere with matters of selection - are awaiting a ruling from the Board?

The Negroes, the Afro-Guyanese who the Indians, most of them, refer to as black, believe Hooper should be selected, and those of Indian descent, most of them, are against his selection. Those against believe that Hooper, who recently bought a house in Trinidad, is not interested in playing for the country of his birth and, as the rumour goes, that he will soon be representing Trinidad and Tobago in the regional competitions - probably as early as next year.

In this country, it is Hooper, who is of African descent, versus (Shivnarine) Chanderpaul, who is of Indian extraction.

Those falling behind Hooper believe that while Chanderpaul is pampered and showered with gifts such as land and cars by those of his race and by a government comprised mainly by those of his race, their man is not, and because of that they understand, if that is really so, his hesitancy in representing Guyana.

Drop Hooper? ``You must be crazy, they say - not in this country, and not at this time.

Source: The Jamaica Gleaner

Contributed by CricInfo Management, and reproduced with permission

Date-stamped : 26 Feb1998 - 18:23