Hooper missing for Guyana

Tony Becca , Senior Sport Editor

February 20, 1998

CRICKET: Georgetown, Guyana: West Indies batsman Carl Hooper will not be in Guyana's line up for the three day tour match against England starting at Everest Cricket Club on Saturday, and not for the first time, Guyanese are questioning his commitment to the team of which he is the captain.

``All I can tell you is that he is not playing,'' said a member of the Guyanese Cricket Board of Control yesterday. ``The team will be led by (Shivnarine) Chanderpaul.''

Why is Hooper not playing? No one seems to know. All they know, according to another Board member who, like everyone else prefers to be anonymous, is that he asked to be excused, and will be arriving in Guyana from Trinidad and Tobago next Wednesday - two days before the start of the fourth Test.

``You never know with Hooper however,'' said a member of Everest which will be hosting its first international match. ``You never know - he may turn up tomorrow (today) and say he will play.''

Although Hooper's absence in the Guyana team is nothing unusual, Guyanese are upset, not only because he is the captain of Guyana, not only because they wanted him in the team, but also because they believe that after their performances in Pakistan and in the second and third Test matches, all the West Indies batsmen should be playing as often as possible in an effort to find their form for the fourth Test against England.

According to them, that includes Hooper who, apart from his unbeaten 94 in the second innings of the second Test, has been struggling for runs.

Hooper scored one in the first innings of the second Test, one and five in the third Test, and following captain Brian Lara's comments after losing the third Test, and the suggestion of some of the selectors that Chanderpaul play in the tour match and get some batting practice in the middle, some Guyanese are wondering if there are different guidelines for some West Indies players.

``The batsmen have just got to understand that the bowlers are doing a tremendous job at the moment. Sometimes they are not going to come through but we have to come through as batters and ensure that we put the team in a winning position,'' said Lara.

And the captain continued: ``We've got the bowlers to bowl England out and they have got the bowlers to bowl us out. The team that improves more in their batting will win the series.''

Is it that Hooper is satisfied with his performance? Is it that he feels one brilliant innings is enough? Or is it that he feels he is so good that he can walk into a Test match and find his form?

Those are the questions being asked around Georgetown by cricket fans - especially those who are disappointed at the West Indies batting performance and believe that all the batsmen, including Lara himself, should be disappointed in themselves and should be doing everything and using every opportunity to get into top form.

Source: The Jamaica Gleaner

Contributed by CricInfo Management, and reproduced with permission

Date-stamped : 20 Feb1998 - 18:19