Carl Hooper: Kent’s first T20 cricketer, before the format existed

Friday 26th April 2024

Men’s First Team

Vitality Blast

Carl Hooper: Kent’s first T20 cricketer, before the format existed

Signed on the eve of the 1992 county cricket season, West Indies all-rounder Carl Hooper would make a lasting impression on Kent supporters and his teammates alike.

He ended his English county career, albeit at Lancashire, in 2004 – but not before he had etched his name in history as the first cricketer to score a County Championship hundred against all 18 first-class counties.

Hooper had the ability to change a game in an instant – a constant competitor for the fastest century of the season accolade, the Walter Lawrence Trophy, which he won in 1998 following a 72-ball ton against Worcestershire at The Spitfire Ground, St Lawrence.

He is also one of only four men to have cleared the old Lime Tree at The Spitfire Ground with a six.

Min Patel, the Club’s Head of Talent Pathway and a teammate of Hooper’s at Kent in the 1990s, tells us that his talent was foreshadowing a format of the game that wasn’t invented until 2003.

“We didn’t know that T20 cricket was just around the corner in the ’90s but Carl was the sort of player that could make an impact in all three disciplines,” Min says. “He could make an impact at any time and could change a game on his own with his slip fielding, outfielding, spin bowling, even some part-time medium pace bowling, and of course his batting.

“He arrived in Canterbury as a completely new type of overseas player. I’d experienced playing with the likes of Aravinda Da Silva, and after Carl had left us, Rahul Dravid, too – but they were all specialist players bought in to either bat well or bowl well – Carl could do both for you. He was a completely multi-dimensional player and wasn’t pigeon-holed into one discipline.

“In the modern context, Carl would definitely be going for big bucks in an IPL Auction, but he would have done well in any era. He was a standout cricketer that would put bums on seats.

“My biggest compliment to Carl would be a story that former Kent Head Coach Jimmy Adams once told me. Carl was playing for West Indies during a great era for them, with the likes of Brian Lara, Viv Richards and other players of that size all in the same side.

“Jimmy told me that Curtly Ambrose would never watch his team bat, but he would always make an exception for Carl. He would turn off his headphones and go and sit and watch Carl’s innings – as soon as he was out, he would go back to his music or whatever else he was doing. In the great West Indies teams like that, that’s the biggest compliment I think he can receive.”

Hooper’s appeal has left a lasting impression on Kent supporters that saw him wearing the White Horse, one of them was a young aspiring batter from Lewisham that went on to become Kent’s Club Captain, Daniel Bell-Drummond.

Being from West Indian heritage and from what everyone says, including coach Matt Walker, about how great this guy was, I’d put Carl Hooper in my All-Time Kent XI most suited to T20 cricket,” ‘Deebs’ states.

“He was a brilliant player for Kent over the years. A lot of the guys that are my coaches now; Walks, Simon Cook, they’ve described him as one of Kent’s best ever overseas. And I was lucky enough to see him play live!”

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