Cricket / Fifth Test: Hooper needed for right balance: Tony Cozier sees the West Indies attack suffer without the variety of a spinner
Thursday 21 April 1994
Carl Hooper has always been an enigma, a cricketer who hasn't made the most of his
obvious all-round talent. In his 40 Tests his batting average is 30 and he has taken 36 wickets at an expensive 55.6 each. But such figures camouflage his essential value to the balance of the present team.
If he has under-achieved, Hooper remains a quality batsman capable of big scores. His last innings on the Antigua Recreation Ground was an unbeaten 178 against Pakistan a year ago. At slip he is a sure and spectacular catcher. But it is his off-spin bowling that the West Indies now miss most.
When the attack contained Malcolm Marshall and Ian Bishop, along with Curtley Ambrose and Courtney Walsh, he was mostly redundant. Marshall's retirement and Bishop's chronic back problems have weakened the bowling resources for the two Benjamins, good bowlers that they are, are not of the same class.
Since taking over the captaincy, Richardson has used Hooper more than any other bowler except Ambrose. In his last eight Tests he took 21 wickets, providing the variety now needed.
Depressed by the evenness of the pitches at Kensington Oval and now here and possibly lacking some motivation after securing the series in Trinidad, the West Indies have conceded three consecutive totals in excess of 350 - and that after the 46 demolition in Port of Spain.
They play their next Test in India come October and can anticipate even less helpful surfaces than the one here. There will be little pace or bounce and plenty of turn. Hooper's return will be accordingly welcomed, but they must also find a specialist spinner or two from somewhere. Two leg-spinners, Rajindra Dhanraj, a Trinidadian whose 30 wickets were the best haul in this season's Red Stripe Cup, and Rawle Lewis, the 19-year-old from Grenada who claimed nine wickets for the Board XI against England over the Easter weekend, are the only two who realistically qualify and both are short of international experience. A more difficult series than this one has been is in prospect.
Latest in Sport
Chelsea vs Manchester United: Jose Mourinho dismisses United injury worries, saying 'they have an amazing squad'
Aaron Hernandez: American Football in the dock as NFL star player's murderous double life is revealed
Chelsea vs Manchester United: Why Blues are the least popular team in the league
Arsene Wenger compares talk of Jurgen Klopp replacing him at Arsenal to a 'circus'
Chelsea vs Manchester United combined XI: Thibaut Courtois or David De Gea? Juan Mata or Willian? Who makes our team?
- 1 BBC election debate: The one photo that summed up the whole 90-minute leaders debate
- 2 A bottle of wine a day is not bad for you and abstaining is worse than drinking, scientist claims
- 3 18th century sex toy found in 'toilet of sword fighting school' in Poland
- 4 'I wish my teacher knew...': Young students share their 'heartbreaking' worries in notes
The only black face in the Ukip manifesto is on the page about overseas aid
Ukip is the only main political party to not address LGBT rights in its manifesto
If I’m being racially abused I don’t need a stranger with a saviour complex to rescue me
BBC election debate: The one photo that summed up the whole 90-minute leaders debate
Religion isn't growing, it is becoming vigorous in its demise, says philosopher AC Grayling
Russian warships in English Channel 'to conduct anti-aircraft and anti-submarine military drills'
£30000 - £40000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Front-End UI Application ...
£18000 - £26000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They work with major vehicle ma...
£27000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Domestic Service Only Engineers are requ...
£23600 - £27500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The Employability Service withi...