The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Hooper rubbishes inexperience theory

Calcutta: Many have blamed the West Indies’ poor performance in India on lack of experience. Skipper Carl Hooper, however, thinks otherwise.

“This young lot has been there for the last three years. It’s time now to start. You say they are inexperienced, but we’ve got guys who’ve played 20-25 Tests. I am over 100 Tests and there’s (Shivnarine) Chanderpaul who has played a handful,” said Hooper after the team’s morning practice session.

According to Hooper, inexperience if any, is there to be seen in the fast bowling department. “This crop of West Indian fast bowlers is new to this level and they will take time to strike the right balance. Right now, it’s chop and choose but hopefully it will get better.”

Talking about the way his team was outplayed in the first two Tests, Hooper said his team’s catching left a lot to be desired. “The catching has been poor. I’m not saying that the batting has been brilliant, but we certainly expect some of the catches dropped to be taken. We have done a lot of practice and hopefully the results will show. Certainly we’ve got to catch better.

“And from the batting point of view, when we do get in, we should try to reach three figures. It’s very, very important,” said the West Indies captain, who scored his first Test century at the Eden, in 1987-88.

Hooper didn’t get emotional or nostalgic after being reminded of his first big moment. “Every Test innings is important. But I have positive memories of Eden Gardens,” was all he would say about his return to the historic venue.

“We have played in front of good crowds in India but maybe the turnout here will be different. I trust our players to be focussed on the job at hand and give a good, positive display,” noted the Caribbean skipper.

Hooper said his team didn’t have much in terms motivation, but added there was still something to look forward to. “We’re playing basically for pride. Every Test match is important and this one is no different. The two Tests have been disappointing and we’ll try for some positive result here.”

The right-hander admitted his batsmen were still to come to terms with Anil Kumble and Harbhajan Singh. “Maybe, we showed too much respect to the spinners. We haven’t been playing too many shots but, in the end, we have to strike the right balance. It’s important for the batsmen to stay at the wicket and put up a good score.”

Hooper seemed to have a lot faith in spinners Mahendra Nagamootoo and Gareth Breese, both of whom failed to make any impact on the Indian batsmen in the previous Tests. “We have got two genuinely good spinners. They are not yet in the same class as say a Warne or Murali but I think they will benefit a lot from this outing.”

About the absence of Brian Lara, Hooper said: “It’s like you miss Sachin. It’s obviously a big blow but at the same time it’s also an opportunity for some of the younger guys to come through.”

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