carl

Born December 15, 1966, Carl Llewellyn Hooper of Guyana went on to play over 100 Tests, and even led the West Indian side. A legend in his own right, Hooper scored over 10,000 international runs and picked up over 300 wickets. He also scored 20 international hundreds in a career spanning a decade and a half. On his 50th birthday, Chinmay Jawalekar looks at 14 facts from the life of the West Indian who is known for his calm demeanour both on and off the field.

1.  A birthday debut: Hooper made his Test debut for the West Indies against India in Mumbai on December 11, 1987. Interestingly, he played his first innings on his 21st birthday, as India batted first and West Indies started their innings only on the third evening. He scored 37 runs in the only innings he played in the drawn Test.

2.  Early signs of promise: Hooper showed promise early in his career when he slammed an unbeaten 100 in only his second career-innings in his second Test at the iconic Eden Gardens.

3.  First to the treble in Tests and ODIs: Hooper was the first to reach the 5,000 run-100 wicket-100 catch treble in both Tests and ODIs, a feat since emulated only by Jacques Kallis.

4.  Dropped out of the World Cups: He withdrew from the West Indies squad for the 1996 World Cup during which the Caribbean side were knocked-out in a closely-fought semi-final against Australia. In 1999, Hooper opted out of the World Cup squad again, and announced retirement from international cricket. However, this time, the reasons were emotional as his ailing son and family needed him.

5.  Hundred against all 18 County teams: Hooper played for Kent and Lancashire. In 2003, playing for Lancashire, he achieved the unique feat of scoring centuries against all 18 county teams. In the process, he became the second batsman to do so after former England cricketer Mark Ramprakash. Later, in 2004, Chris Adams joined the two batsmen in the elite list.

6.  Slowest to reach 100 wickets in Tests: Hooper took longest to reach 100 Test wickets: he got there in his 90th Test. He also took more balls to get there than anyone else — around 12,000, just under 2,000 more than Ravi Shastri and Trevor Goddard.

7.  Dispute with the board: In November 1998, immediately after losing the final of the Wills International Cup to South Africa in Bangladesh, West Indies were supposed to fly to the rainbow nation for their first official tour. Captain Brian Lara and vice-captain Hooper apparently refused to accompany the team on the tour because they were unhappy about payments to the players.

8.  Retirement and comeback: Hooper had stunningly announced his retirement from international cricket, just three weeks ahead of 1999 World Cup. But he made an even more surprising comeback from the retirement two years later — that too as captain. He led the side for a couple of years till the 2003 World Cup, where the team failed to go past the first round. Post-World Cup, Hooper was retained in the squad as a player for the Test series against Australia. But he withdrew yet again, and this time for the good, as he wanted a younger player instead of him.

9.  Second home Down Under: Post-retirement, Hooper relocated to Australia. He now lives in Adelaide with his Australian wife Connie . Hooper loves the weather and the lifestyle down under and hence has no plans of moving back to his native place.

10.  Coach: Hooper first took up coaching at a club in Adelaide, and completed his level 1, 2 and 3 coaching courses in Australia. He was also associated as a coach with Darren Lehmann’s Academy before taking up the South Australia second XI assignment. He was then appointed batting coach of West Indies Cricket Board (WICB) High Performance Centre. In 2014 he was appointed assistant coach of Antigua Hawksbill in Caribbean Premier League (CPL). In 2015 he was set to coach Guyana Amazon Warriors in the same league.

11.  Un Caffe Bar: Hooper has turned a businessman after retiring from the game. He helps his wife and her brothers to run a chain of coffee shops called Un Caffe Bar in Adelaide.

12.  Personal life: Hooper and Connie have two children; a daughter, and a son named Carl Jr. Connie has an advertising background, but is also active in the family business of chain of coffee shops.

13.  Hobbies: In his spare time, Hooper trades currencies on the foreign-exchange markets. He does not trade in stocks and shares, but dollars against sterling.

14.  Hailed by Shane Warne: Shane Warne rated Hooper quite highly during his playing days. He found Hooper’s footwork quite challenging for a spinner and, in 2008, named him among the top 100 cricketers of his time, citing in particular his ability to disguise his dances down the track.

(A self-confessed cricket freak, Chinmay Jawalekar is a senior writer with CricLife and CricketCountry. When not writing or following cricket, he loves to read, eat and sleep. He can be followed here @CricfreakTweets)