Tuesday, January 29, 2013

My Favorite Players - Carl Hooper

Starting with this post I am going to write about my All Time Favorite Cricket Players. Players whom I loved watching and miss them today and often wish they were still playing. I could pay millions to watch them on the field today (if only I had those millions!).

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Carl Hooper - West Indies

I think I first saw Carl Hooper in action when West Indies were touring India in 1994 though I am not so sure about that and it could have well been 1997 that I am talking about. I remember Hooper striding out with the white floppy hat sitting comfortably on his head. He would immediately get into the groove with languid drives. Though he did not get high scores consistently but Hooper had caught my eye. I remember how he would jump out to the spinners and loft them over the infield easily (it was very rare to loft the ball in those days) and was always eager to use his feet against them.

Carl Hooper - West Indies
Carl Hooper Flicks the Ball off his Toes
Image courtesy cricinfo

Hooper was a highly attacking batsman with the typical Carribean flair but he was also easy on the eyes. He played shots with such fluidity that he would seem to just caress the ball and the ball would go scurrying towards the boundary. He was also a terrific slip fielder and often held screamers off Curtly Ambrose, Courtney Walsh and Mervyn Dillon!!

Carl Hooper was the first cricketer to score 5000 runs, take 100 wickets, hold 100 catches and receive 100 caps in both ODI and Test Match Cricket a feat matched only by Jacques Kallis since then. He played 102 tests for the West Indies and scored 5762 runs at an average of almost 37. He hit 13 tons and 27 fifties during his test career. He also claimed 114 wickets with his part time off breaks. His highest score of 233 is etched in my mind vividly as he tore into the Indian bowlers in 2001. He played 227 ODI's in which he scored 5761 runs at 35.34 hitting 7 hundreds. He took 193 wickets in the shorter format of the game.

Those are impressive stats but he was also very inconsistent and would give his wicket away needlessly when set by playing a rash stroke. I always thought that he could achieve so much more with the kind of talent that he possessed. I would feel so frustrated when he would throw his wicket away at times when he had the bowlers to his mercy.

Shane Warne once wrote that he was unable to find any palpable weakness in Hoopers game.

I loved Carl Hooper because he had so much time to play his strokes - a quality and sign of a great batsman, he was a genuine wicket taker, a safe catcher and was such a likable person in general.

What are your memories of Carl Hooper? Have you seen him him in action live?

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