|Full name:||Roger Andrew Harper|
|Born:||17 Mar 1963, Georgetown, Demerara, Guyana|
|Relations:||Brother: MA Harper|
|Teams:||Guyana U-19 (2in: 1979-1980?); West Indies U-19 (Test: 1980-1982); West Indies U-19 (ODI: 1982); Demerara (FC: 1979-1989); Guyana (FC: 1980-1996); Guyana (ListA: 1980-1996); West Indies (Test: 1983-1993); West Indies (ODI: 1983-1996); Northamptonshire (FC: 1985-1987); Northamptonshire (ListA: 1985-1987); All teams|
|Club:||Demerara Cricket Club, Georgetown|
|School:||Fountain AME, Queen's College, Georgetown|
|Northamptonshire cap: 1986|
|Lists of matches and more detailed statistics|
Roger Andrew Harper was a 6-foot-5-inch tall (195.5 cm) off-spinner, hard-hitting middle-order batsman and fabulous fielder for Guyana and the West Indies.
He spent his earliest years in Newtown, Kitty (in north Georgetown), before the family moved to Queenstown (central Georgetown), not far from the Demerara Cricket Club. Roger's early interest in cricket was nurtured by his older brother Mark, a cricket fanatic who later played first class cricket for Guyana, and his father, who loved sports in general.
After attending Fountain AME School, Roger attended Queen's College, in Georgetown. While at Queen's College, Roger obtained a regular high school education, played school cricket, played first division cricket for the Demerara Cricket Club, represented the Guyana youth team in West Indies regional competition and sold insurance after school!
Roger made his debut for the Guyana Under-19 team, against Trinidad & Tobago in August 1979, at Bourda. He scored his first half century and took his first five-wicket haul against England Young Cricketers in January 1980, at Bourda. In July 1980, he scored his first century for Guyana, and took another five-wicket haul, in a youth match against Barbados, at the Kensington Oval, in Barbados.
In 1979 Roger made his first class debut, for Demerara against Berbice, in a match that was ruined by rain. In 1980 he made his debut for the senior Guyana team in the regional first class Shell Shield competition. The Guyana team struggled in the Shell Shield that year, except against Jamaica at Jarrett Park. The young Roger Harper took 5 wickets in the first innings and 4 in the second, with Jamaica barely saving the game with 9 second innings wickets down.
Guyana fared no better in 1981, but another outstanding Guyana off-spinner, Clyde Butts, made his first class debut. Butts was a flat, economical off-spinner with plenty of speed and line variation, but Roger depended more on varying his flight. Butts' value as a spinner was soon evident, but Roger continued to be valuable as an all-rounder and extraordinary fielder. In 1981 too, Roger Harper started playing professional cricket, in Ireland.
Guyana's performances in regional cricket showed no improvement in 1982, but Roger was chosen to captain the West Indies youth team on its tour to England. In 1983 he made his ODI debut for the West Indies in India, followed by his Test debut.
Unlike Guyana, the West Indies team provided little opportunity for Roger's bowling. The West Indies fast bowlers usually blew away the opposition, with Roger being used occasionally for variety, speeding up the over rate or simply to give the fast bowlers a rest. His outstanding fielding made the West Indies fast bowling even more effective, and his batting ability provided some re-assurance for the West Indies batting - not that it was needed often.
Despite the West Indies' almost complete reliance on fast bowling, however, Roger still managed to lead the West Indies to a 64-run Test victory over England in 1984, by taking 6 for 57 - his best Test bowling figures in an innings. Nevertheless, Roger's place in the West Indies team was never secure, with Butts breathing down his shoulder and Carl Hooper providing another off-spin option in later years.
Harper's outstanding performance during the entire 1984 tour led to his signing by Northamptonshire the following year and he remained with the county until 1988. His best ever season was in 1986 during which he took 62 wickets at 26.93 apiece and also recorded his highest ever first class score, an innings of 234 against Gloucestershire which included twelve sixes and twenty-five fours.
In 1987, Roger Harper led Guyana to rather surprising success in regional cricket, by capturing, and keeping, the famous Shell Shield, in its last year of competition. Two centuries each by Roger himself and debutante Sudesh Dhaniram, who was having a sensational debut year in regional competition, were the foundation of Guyana's success.
His Test career which seemed so promising at the start, to the degree that he was even identified as a future West Indies captain, was however stymied by a knee injury he suffered during the 1989 domestic series which ruled him out of selection for India's tour that year. Attempting perhaps to rush his recovery, he was selected for the tour of England the following year, but almost completely lost his bowling action and was never again quite the force he had been before.
Roger made a mammoth 202, his highest first class score for Guyana, and took 6 for 24, his best first class bowling figures for an innings, in 1995 in a match against the Windwards at Bourda.
If Roger's Test career proved to be less rewarding than anticipated, the same could not be said about his ODI career. An electrifying fielder in any position, his all-round talent made him an automatic pick for the West Indies ODI team. He played in his first World Cup in India and Pakistan in 1986 and a decade later was still enough of a force to be a huge part of the West Indies 1996 campaign, which ended with a semi-final loss to Australia.
One of his notable ODI bowling performances for the West Indies was against South Africa, in the quarter finals of the 1996 Cricket World Cup, when he took 4 for 47 to allow the West Indies to seize control of the match.
Graham Gooch would probably always remember Roger Harper's outstanding fielding. Batting for MCC against the World XI in the MCC Bicentenary match at Lord's in 1987, Gooch had passed 100 when he drilled Harper's off-spin to the on side and took a few paces down the pitch. Harper took one stride to his right, his right arm telescoped and plucked the ball cleanly from the turf. In the same flowing movement he threw down Gooch's middle stump with the batsman upended on all fours.
After retirement he went into coaching, taking charge of West Indies between 2000 and 2003 during a period of transition. He was appointed as the Under-19 coach in December 2005, but quit after a month to take charge of the Kenyan national side where he rebuilt a squad that was close to a shambles when he arrived. He stood down from that role in September 2007 (after the Cricket World Cup in the West Indies) as the job took him away from his home in Guyana for too long.
Roger Harper was elected president of the Georgetown Cricket Association (GCA) in 2010, 2011 and 2012. Caught up in the Demerara Cricket Board debacle of the early 2010s, he received strong support from those under GCA, other local cricket boards, former and current cricketers. Under Roger's leadership, the GCA continues to be a vibrant organisation.
|West Indies U19||Testy||6||9||2||195||48||27.85||0||0||13|
|West Indies U19||ODIy||2||2||0||20||15||10.00||0||0||1|
|West Indies U19||Testy||799||44||267||9||5/103||29.66||-||1||0||88.77||2.00|
|West Indies U19||ODIy||108||2||57||3||2/26||19.00||0||0||-||36.00||3.16|