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Words that wil haunt Hooper

CARL Hooper may well have reason to rejoice a couple of days down the track, with his batsmen having placed the West Indies into a position from which they are likely to win the Test series against India by the odd win of three. But the West Indies skipper will not be able to forget the words he used to explain away the defeat in Guyana, when his team failed to reach a target of just over 322, a total which they could have well attained with ease.

Hooper has for a long time seemed almost absent in spirit while leading the team. Defeat does not seem to faze him - he always has some kind of explanation for it and most of the time he does not take any personal responsibility. His comments after the second Test defeat, made in a column written for the Indian news agency, Press Trust of India, squarely laid the responsibility for the defeat at the feet of Brian Lara and Shivnarine Chanderpaul.

According to Hooper, Lara was extremely nervous at the start of the play on the final day when the West Indies resumed at 131 for two, needing a further 191 for victory. What the skipper failed to mention was his own failure to come to terms with the conditions and play a match-winning innings. He is the senior as far as years go, and also as far as Test experience goes. He has the ability - though he appears almost loath to display his talents at times.

So Lara was nervous, and Hooper says he knew inside that the Trinidadian would probably fall sooner rather than later to one of the Indian bowlers. When Hooper himself contributed only a beggarly 22, who is he to make such statements? He did not comment on his own failure - it was apparently par for the course.

And then he turned on Chanderpaul, the man who made 67 not out, the man who could have, if he had had support from the tailenders, taken the West Indies to an undeserving victory. Yes, Hooper had the audacity to write that he advised Chanderpaul to play carefully and try to carry the team along to the target. All the while, the skipper, with the miserable score of 22 against his name, was sitting in the pavilion.

It strikes one as extremely funny that Hooper can expect to continue to occupy the post of skipper, retain the respect of his team, and continue making inane comments such as these. In fact, he had opted to bat last in this Test. And when it came to an eminently gettable 322, the man failed. Yet he had the gall to lay the blame on others. And people still keep wondering why the West Indies continue to fare miserably in world cricket.