The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Hard work paying off, feels Hooper

Port Elizabeth: Carl Hooper believes West Indies’ World Cup win over South Africa is a sign that the twice world champions are beginning to recapture the form that once made them cricket’s most feared team.

Captain Hooper said Wednesday his side had been slowly improving in recent years following a rapid slide in standing, and that Sunday’s thrilling three-run victory in Cape Town was proof the work was starting to pay dividends.

“The changes have been happening for years but you’re only just beginning to see the results and where we want to get to as a team,” Hooper said on the eve of their match against New Zealand. “A lot of hard work has been done over the years, a lot of trial and error, and a lot of disappointments but we’re more or less now beginning to play as a team.”

They were given little hope of ending their poor run coming into this year’s tournament but their dramatic win over South Africa, second favourites behind Australia to win the title, showed they were serious contenders. “It did a lot for our boys. More than the victory, what was inspiring was the manner in which it was done,” said Hooper.

“We could easily have crumbled first up after the first hour of the game but, towards the end of the game, I thought we actually showed a lot of bottle and nerve to come through.

“We’re actually beginning to believe that we can do it, get ourselves into positions and then finish the job. I think that’s good to see and we should get stronger as the competition goes on.”

Despite his team’s opening win, Hooper said his players had to be wary of underestimating New Zealand, who slipped to a disappointing 47-run loss to Sri Lanka in their opening match in Bloemfontein.

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