Carl Hooper July 31, 2008

Talking to Viv, talking to Warne

A call-up, an eye-opener, a rip-snorter



Early days: Hooper during the 1988 tour of England © Getty Images

First conversation with Viv Richards
It was interesting. It came during my first one-day game and he asked me where I wanted to field. I was a specialist slip fielder for Guyana. He said, "You've got to earn your way there", and put me in the covers.

First time I lost my cool on the field
It's happened heaps of times in the dressing room but the first time I actually spit out my frustration on the field was against Shane Warne in Perth in 1997. He kept throwing the ball back [to the wicketkeeper] and the ball was going not stump-high but rising towards my chest, and even my head at times. We exchanged some words and that was it, he stopped doing it.

First Test hundred
It was at the Eden Gardens. Maninder Singh bowled one on leg, I turned it down, ran two, and lifted my bat to celebrate. I was called up as a very, very late replacement for Gordon Greenidge, who was ill. "Hoops, you're playing," Viv said. That was my second Test match and I didn't really appreciate the importance of the moment till a little later in the game.

First time a bowler made me sit up
The first time I really felt that I had to watch a guy was against Mohammad Zahid at the Gabba in a Benson & Hedges game. It was probably the fastest spell I faced. I was in good form but the ball was just a blur. He was looking for wickets and and he had me thinking that if he got it on target, there was a very good chance of getting hit.

First national call-up
I was in New York. I had just returned from an Under-18 tour of Zimbabwe and had gone there to visit my parents, who had migrated weeks before the Zimbabwe tour. One day when I was out, my dad took a call from the West Indies Cricket Board (WICB). So I called the WICB back and Steve Camacho, one of the selectors, told me I was picked for the New Zealand tour. Just like that, life had changed for me within days.

As told to Nagraj Gollapudi