Hooper First To Triple
Quietly, almost unnoticed and without the attendant fanfare "Cool" Carl Hooper has created history by becoming the first cricketer to score the Triple Feat in both Test and One-day international cricket competition.
Hooper became the only player to reach the triple land mark of 5000 runs, 100 wickets and 100 catches at both levels of the sport during the West Indies tour of Sharjah when he took his 100th catch in the third one-day international against Pakistan to dismiss batsman Younis Khan. Hooper's record now reads:- ODI- 205 matches, 5,310 runs, 180 wickets and 100 catches. Test cricket - 93 Test matches, 5,253 runs, 103 wickets and 106 catches.
There have been many talented all-rounders to grace the sport but none have been as graceful as Hooper. Some though, like India's Kapil Dev, England's Ian Botham and Pakistan's Imran Khan have had considerably greater impact though none has been able to achieve the triple. Hooper has long been considered a supremely gifted cricketer. When batting there is none to rival him for composure, class and elegance. His catching has that sort of languid grace that tells of someone with the smoothest hand to eye co-ordination in the business. Hooper somehow manages to make the most breathtaking catches look quite easy, simple almost.
He is now unique in the sense that he stands alone in his achievement.
Long considered an underachiever Hooper seems anxious to make up for lost time. Since his return from retirement in 1999, Hooper has averaged 52.2 in 13 tests as captain of the West Indies team. It is as if the captaincy has made him more conscious of his responsibilities to the team. In 23 innings he has scored over 1100 runs with two centuries including a double and eight fifties. He returned to regional cricket last year and scored a then record 954 runs in the Busta series and continued his rich vein of form in the West Indies after returning from Sharjah this year with his last three innings reeling off scores 222, 149 not out and 233.
Stabroek Sports Donald Duff caught up with Hooper after yesterday's play was rained out and he gave an insight into his achievement.
DD:- How do you feel about your accomplishment of being the first cricketer in the history of the game to reach the milestone of 5000 runs, 100 wickets and 100 catches in both test and one-day internationals?
CH:- Personally it's some achievement. I'm not one really for the records and so on, but I think it's a great milestone. I hope it's not going to stop there. My aim is to score as much Test and one-day runs as possible. The figure I'm looking at is somewhere between eight to eight and a half thousand Test runs and maybe likewise in the one-day game. But obviously it's a great achievement and I'm pretty proud to reach such a landmark.
DD:- How difficult has it been?
CH:- Well it hasn't been too difficult. I mean with all the talk of being an underachiever when it was brought to my attention by a good friend Brij Parasnath, one would have thought that after being hailed as an underachiever for so many years, the last person to reach this landmark would have been myself. But like I've said before, I hardly pay attention to records and so on but of late I've been forced to. But I've always been of the opinion that averages don't tell the true story or the full picture.
DD:- Do you think the achievement knocks for six the talk of you being an underachiever?
CH:- I've never looked at myself as an underachiever. I think I've achieved quite a bit in Test cricket. I don't think you come everyday and score five thousand Test runs or five thousand one-day runs and I think that in itself is an effort. I think people look at me as primarily a batter. They say every Test wicket is equivalent to 25 Test runs and I don't need to remind them that although I might primarily be a batter, I also have 103 Test wickets. But I'm a cricketer first and foremost and I like to be involved in the game whether bowling batting or fielding. In this cricket you can bat well but if you don't bowl well you won't win games and vice versa. I like to look at myself as a cricketer who can bat, bowl and field.
DD:- The last few years of your career you've been averaging in the 40's which shows a greater degree of consistency what has been responsible for this?
CH:- Maybe being a little bit more focused, maybe paying some attention to things which people want to see - which is basically your average being 45 or 50 before they rate you as a good player. But I can call a lot of players who are averaging 40 or 45 and haven't won many games for the West Indies. I think I've been "Man of the match" quite a few times and I can say I've won my fair share of one-day games and Test matches for West Indies.
DD:-After scoring that magnificent 233 in this Test match do you think you're batting better than ever now and are you a more mature individual now?
CH:- I think a little bit of everything you've said is correct. I think I'm batting as good as before. I think the difference is rather than getting to 110 or 80 or 90, I probably want to go on an get to 150 and try and set the game up for my team. Especially now as captain I've seen too many times, especially in the last year, we get to positions where we begin to take control of the game and then let it slip through. Those are some of the things I'm stressing now to the team. As it is we are not as consistent as we like to be. As captain I think it is important for me to set the tone.
DD:- Even though you scored a double century there still seems to be some negativity surrounding your performance even though it was a positive one. How do you react to such criticism?
CH:- Obviously, very disappointing, but you and I know who these people are. I suppose until the day you're finished they will continue to be that way. I don't have anything to prove to them. I suppose they've got their job to do and they write as they see fit. But the important thing is that I just want to keep doing well and keep proving them wrong every time they try to write you off or be negative in some form of criticism, whether warranted or unwarranted. The idea is not to let anybody keep you down from what you want to achieve in this life. When you get knocked down you get up. You're going to have disappointing days. You brush off, you go again. It's as simple as that.