Hooper Re-writes Record Books
A crowd of approximately 8000 persons basking in the euphoria of the world boxing title win by Andrew 'Six-head' Lewis, who wrote his own page in Guyana's boxing history Saturday night, saw another Guyanese re-writing the record books in the Busta Cup cricket match between Guyana and the Windward Islands at Bourda yesterday. Carl Llewllyn Hooper, the man tipped to be the next West Indies captain, re-wrote the regional and local record books with a responsible innings of 128 which guided Guyana to first innings points over the Windwards as the championship race among regional teams enters the homestretch.
Guyana eventually declared at 425-9 at 4 p.m. in reply to the Windwards' 350 and had picked up vital wickets to place themselves in contention for an outright win, with the visitors on 24-2 in their second innings at the close.
Hooper's second regional hundred at Bourda, following his 101 against Barbados in 1997, pushed his aggregate in the series so far to 786 runs from nine innings, bettering the regional series record of 756 runs set by Barbadian Floyd Reifer. Reifer set the record in the 1997 double-round Red Stripe Cup competition batting on 18 occasions for an average of 44.47.
Hooper also broke the record of most centuries by a Guyanese in a season surpassing the previous record of three held by Basil Butcher, Roy Fredericks, Roger Harper and Shivnarine Chanderpaul. Butcher and Fredericks both accomplished the feat in 1967 while Harper's three centuries were compiled in 1987 and Chanderpaul's in 1998.
Hooper also became the joint record holder for most centuries in a season, joining none other than the illustrious former West Indies opener Desmond Haynes who scored four centuries in the 1991 Red Stripe Cup competition.
In recording his sixth regional century on home soil, Hooper passed Englishman Ian Ward's aggregate of 684 runs to become the leading run scorer in the competition. It was the Guyanese batting stylist's 53rd first-class hundred and 10th at the regional level, joining fellow Guyanese Fredericks and Clive Lloyd, the most successful West Indies captain on 10. Only Clayton Lambert, who holds the regional record with 14 has more centuries than Hooper among Guyanese batsmen.
Hooper also needs another 214 runs to cop the coveted US$50,000 prize to be awarded by the sponsors and the West Indies Cricket Board for the first regional batsman to reach 1000 runs inclusive of Busta Invitational Shield matches. With the crowd cheering every run, Hooper was eventually caught by substitute fielder Mc Neil Morgan off the bowling of leg-spinner Orlanzo Jackson for 128 made from 182 balls, which included 13 fours and lasted 238 minutes.
But it was not all plain sailing at Bourda, renowned as a batting paradise. Resuming on 179-3 with Test batsman Ramnaresh Sarwan and rising star Travis Dowlin not out on 60 and 34 respectively, the two batsmen found the going tough as Guyana added 93 runs in the pre-lunch session for the loss of Sarwan's wicket. The two took their fourth wicket partnership to 116 in 176 minutes before Sarwan was bowled by left-arm pacer Deighton Butler for 73, which came in 219 minutes, from 141 balls with four fours.
At lunch Guyana were 273-4 with Hooper not out on 44 and Dowlin who had earlier reached his third half century this season with an extra cover drive for four off Shane Shillingford on 65, with eight fours from 208 balls in 251 minutes. Dowlin added only two runs to his lunchtime score before touching a catch to wicket-keeper Junior Murray off leg-spinner Rawle Lewis for 67 and when Mahendra Nagamootoo was caught and bowled by Shillingford for two, Guyana's position appeared shaky on 299-6.
But vice-captain Neil Mc Garrell played a critical innings and supported his captain whilst 112 runs were added for the seventh wicket. He was dropped by Kirsten Casimir at silly-mid-off when four but after weathering that storm carried the attack, striking three robust boundaries in his 150-minute, 106 ball innings of 47 not out which ended with Hooper's declaration. Shillingford ended with 3-123 and Jackson 3-11 while Butler took 2-73 and Lewis 1-87.
With a lead of 75 the Guyana fast bowlers came out with their tails up and almost got immediate success but opener Devon Smith was dropped by Dowlin on a difficult chance low to his right at second slip off Reon King's first ball. Smith received a second life when he was let off by Mc Garrell at fourth slip off Colin Stuart when on 1, the ball speeding to the boundary for four.
The introduction of the all spin attack of left-arm orthodox Mc Garrell and first innings destroyer Mahendra Nagamootoo dried up the trickle of runs and produced the required breakthrough. Romel Currency had looked untroubled by the pacers but Mc Garrell got one to bounce and turn and he was gobbled up by Dowlin at silly mid-off for six while Smith was bowled by Nagamootoo for 11. However, Greg Wilson and night watchman Shillingford survived until the close. Both batsmen are on three. Mc Garrell has claimed 1-3 from four overs with three maidens while Nagamootoo's three overs has cost four runs.