Hooper Sets Regional Record
CARL Hooper's 2001 dream season continued at the Georgetown Cricket Club (GCC) ground, Bourda, yesterday with the Guyanese captain hitting his fourth century of the Busta Cup tournament against bottom-of-the-table Windward Islands on the penultimate day of their seventh round clash.
Hooper's scintillating knock of 128 also gave Guyana an excellent chance of capturing the Busta Cup title with the Windwards, trailing by 75 runs on first innings, losing two wickets by the close for 24 runs after the home team had declared at 425 for nine in their first innings. The Windwards were dismissed for 350 in their first innings.
Left with 14 overs in the day's play, the Windwards lost openers Romel Currency (six), caught at silly mid-off by Travis Dowlin off left-arm spinner Neil McGarrell and Devon Smith (11) bowled by leg-spinner Mahendra Nagamootoo. Greg Wilson and nightwatchman Shane Shillingford were on three each when stumps were drawn.
An outright win for Guyana could give them the coveted title even if Jamaica defeat the West Indies `B' outright providing Barbados fail to record an outright victory over Trinidad and Tobago. Guyana and Barbados were deadlocked on 45 points while Jamaica were on 39 going into the final preliminary round.
Hooper's feat also allowed him to surpass the regional record of 756 held by Barbadian Floyd Reifer who did so in 1991, his 128 taking his tally of runs to date in the tournament to 786. Reifer played 10 matches while this was achieved by Hooper in his seventh match.
The elegant Hooper entered the fray with Guyana still in a spot of bother in quest of vital first innings points following the dismissal of overnight batsman Ramnaresh Sarwan for 73 at 205 for four.
The consistent Sarwan, who hit four fours in 219 minutes from 141 balls, shared a fourth-wicket stand of 116 in 176 minutes with Travis Dowlin before he played over a full-length delivery from fast-medium bowler Deighton Butler and was bowled.
By lunch, Guyana had progressed to 273 for four with Dowlin, who was 34 overnight, moving to 65 and Hooper already signalling his intention on 44.
Guyana however suffered two setbacks after the interval, losing the wickets of Dowlin (67) and Mahendra Nagamootoo (two) in quick succession, Dowlin edging a wide delivery from leg-spinner Rawl Lewis to wicketkeeper Junior Murray and Nagamootoo offering off-spinner Shane Shillingford a simple return catch. The stocky Dowlin slammed eight fours in 226 minutes off 225 balls.
The Windwards failed to capitalise on this breakthrough when Kirsten Casimir failed to hold on to a catch at silly mid-off off the bowling of Lewis with new batsman Neil McGarrell on four and Guyana 308 for six. The error proved costly, with Hooper and McGarrell not only ensuring Guyana get past the Windwards' 350 but also sharing in a crucial seventh-wicket stand of 112 in 132 minutes.
Hooper reached his century in the final over before tea with an exquisite extra cover drive off leg-spinner Orlanzo Jackson, his 10th at that stage. Hooper counted three more boundaries to his credit before holding out to substitute McNeal Morgan on the long-off boundary in quest of quick runs. His superlative innings lasted 238 minutes and he faced 182 balls.
McGarrell, who struck three fours in 150 minutes, was unbeaten on 47 when the declaration came. Jackson finished with three for 111 from 46 overs, Shillingford three for 123 from 38.5 and Butler two for 73 from 24.
Hooper's century was his 10th at the regional level, his sixth at home and his second at Bourda, the first being 101 versus Barbados in 1997. He also joined Barbadian Desmond Haynes as the only players to record four centuries in a regional first-class season. His 10 centuries also equalled the accomplishments of his countrymen Roy Fredericks and Clive Lloyd with Clayton Lambert leading the way with 14.