05 August, 2021

Never There Genius

After 15 years in world cricket, his image, sadly, is one of a giant who never rose to his full Carribbean stature.

Never There Genius
As Carl Hooper (when 37 in his maiden match for the West Indies) played a casual shot and fell lbw to Kapil Dev in the December 1987 Bombay Test vs. India, Tony Cozier remarked, in an aside, that the man was ‘not there’ as he was anxiously awaiting news about his live-in girl-friend delivering their first baby. Hooper’s penchant for driving his admirers to distraction has remained the distinguishing trait of his cricket since. His aura abides as one of the most cultured stroke-players in the game, if delightfully vulnerable at all times. Carl Llewellyn Hooper is to the West Indies what V.V.S. Laxman is to India. Hooper’s signal failure has been to accord the genius inherent in him such recognition. In the style he brings to his batting and captaincy, Hooper is a lugubriously laidback reminder of Mansur Ali Khan Pataudi and Mohammed Azharuddin.

For the latter two, cricket was always a game, never war. Hooper, likewise, is the quintessential amateur in an era of ruthless professionalism. Even today, Hooper looks a world-beater when the mood seizes him. Like most batsmen...

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