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U.S. Cricket Needs A Long Term Development Plan-- Carl Hooper

By Orin Davidson
Jan. 4th, 2009
Carl Hooper has some advice for United States cricket.
Make a long term plan and stick to it, develop structures and capitalize on the biggest sports market in the world.

Carl Hooper and his son Carl Jr in Queens.

Hooper who visited New York over the Christmas holidays, added that the potential for developing United States is huge because of the presence of large numbers of immigrants from almost all of the cricket playing world.

And the former middle order batsman would not mind being a part of the development process in America on condition that the priorities are right.

“I want to be part of something with a purpose, I want to hear somebody say we have a plan to take United States cricket from here to international level in ten years time,” Hooper declared. “It not necessarily has to be something to bring immediate success, but to be part of a process that would be successful in the long term”.

Hooper said he is now into coaching, having acquired the level two certificate and does not mind leaving Adelaide, Australia where he lived the last nine years.

He stressed that cricket should have a place in the mega American sports industry. “It would be a shame if we live through this lifetime and not have America involved in international cricket because this is where the big crowds and money are”.

The former West Indies batsman and batting stylist feels that the abundance of talent that exists here could be capitalized on with the correct approach by the decision makers.

But he feels that the United States of America could gain a great lot for its players by forging a closer relationship with the West Indies Cricket Board.

Hooper said USACA’s collaborative agreement formed with the New Zealand Cricket board is fine but is of the opinion that the players’ development would benefit more from a similar association with West Indies cricket.

And the former middle order batsman would not mind being a part of the development process in America on condition that the priorities are right.

“Players and coaches could interact quite frequently, the West Indies is much closer, you have much less travelling to do, less expenses”, he declared. “Atleast four players from America could be playing in one of the of the teams like the colleges team, in the first class competition there, also the US junior team should be playing in e very Under-19 competition there”.

The agreement with Cricket Zealand will bring international matches involving that country and others from the International cricket Council’s (ICC) Future Tours program, to America from which a percentage of the U.S. association would earn.

But Hooper asks whether a New Zealand team would attract more spectators than a West Indies team in America. “West Indies cricket is attractive to all spectators around the world so it is easy to see them attracting huge crowds in America”.

Hooper says he has not followed closely the fortunes of United States cricket and from observation during his visit he feels the players need close attention.

At a special net session organized by his brother Lester, who runs the Tri State youth program, at the Brooklyn Indoor facility last week, Hooper said the players did not seem to have much of a plan.

“I saw talent but the session was all flash and dash, the players obviously did not go out there with a goal in mind to work on their weakness”.

Hooper called time on his playing career abruptly after 5762 runs and 114 wickets from 102 Tests, at a time he feels he was not ready to quit while captain.

He was criticized by pundits including former Test players for turning his back on the team after the 2003 World Cup. But Hooper explained that it made no sense for him to continue playing at the expense of the younger set, at the time when Brian Lara was reinstated at the helm..

“I was 38 years old and although my knees were better and I was still playing well, I felt at that age I was blocking the development of the young players,” he explained. “Chris (Gayle) was starting to pull up his straps, Sarwan was coming through well, Samuels (Marlon) was showing promise, I did not want to hinder those younger players”.

“The selectors had other plans for the captaincy and it made no sense for me and Lara to be in the middle at a time when the youngsters needed to be playing,” Hooper explained.

On the current team, Hooper said he is excited at the prospect of emerging fast bowler Kemar Roach teaming up with a fit Fidel Edwards and Jerome Taylor. He said the batting is okay, but the players were not focusing long enough to play well over the 15 sessions required for five day tests.

Amidst the problems facing the West Indies Cricket Board, Hooper feels former captain Clive Lloyd is ideal for the presidency. “He will not want anything from it, he does everything for the love of cricket and has great contacts around the world to get things done”.

Over the years Hooper feels he has not seen a better batsman than the former West Indies great Vivian Richards who he feels is deeply gifted.

On Lara, the former triple world record holder, and current double record holder Sachin Tendulkar, Hooper feels the former was more flamboyant and a risk taker compared to Tendulkar who is more circumspect. Hooper added that they both played for the statistics and know they games inside out.

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