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Friday Fights | The Big ODI Fight - Steve Waugh vs Carl Hooper

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The battle for supremacy

SportsCafe

Friday Fights | The Big ODI Fight - Steve Waugh vs Carl Hooper

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Anirudh Suresh

02/19/2021

Two gifted cricketers who were not just world-class all-rounders but also visionary leaders who led their respective countries with swagger, Steve Waugh and Carl Hooper go head-to-head in the Feb 19 edition of Friday Fights. Both men refused to give up on the field, but what about inside a ring?

There is a Robelinda2 video titled, “You don't see this in cricket, gorgeous six, absolute pure elegance and class” with 219,503 views. It is nothing but Carl Hooper, off his front foot, nonchalantly smacking England’s Angus Fraser over the sight-screen for a divine six. It is a 35-second clip and it doesn’t even capture Hooper’s bowling, but it is a video that perfectly encapsulates the kind of talent the West Indian legend possessed. The reason for bringing up Hooper’s talent is because there exists an overarching view that the Guyanese all-rounder was an ‘unfulfilled talent’ who did not do justice to his freakish potential. 

Usually, such claims are difficult to validate but, as it turns out, in the form of Friday Fights, we have the perfect platform to try and gauge how much truth there is to the statement. Today we pit Hooper inside the squared circle with the great Steve Waugh and see if he indeed was a ‘wasted talent’, or if he had a stellar career that simply is being under-appreciated owing to what he could have achieved. So let’s get the fight rolling, shall we?

ROUND 1 -> BATTING AVERAGE: CARL ‘CARIBBEAN COOL’ HOOPER STRIKES FIRST

There were a lot of attributes that defined Hooper’s batting, but none more so than his nimble footwork. So often he shuffled his feet oh-so-gently, almost floating like a butterfly, and struck thumping blows that left his opponents bamboozled. Turns out this is an attribute that extends to more than just batting as the Guyanese Gladiator, with his batting average of 35.34, moves swiftly and catches the elder Waugh bang on the face to draw first blood. Waugh hates coming second, but his average of 32.9 is simply not good enough here.

Hooper - 10  Waugh - 8

ROUND 2 ---> BOWLING AVERAGE: AND HOOPER GOES TWO UP 

Carl Hooper could so easily have gotten away with being named Carl “Hopper”, for the way he hopped in his run-up was a trademark of his uncanny off-spin. They say ‘old habits die hard’ so here is Hooper hopping in and around the boxing ring. With his healthy bowling average of 34.67, he hopes, swivels, shakes and finally, with a right hook, rattles Waugh, whose 36.05 once again ensures that he comes out second best. 

Hooper - 10  Waugh - 8

ROUND 3 -> BOWLING AVERAGE (ICC TOURNAMENTS): WAUGH IS SECOND BEST NO MORE

Steve Waugh is a man who can digest a lot of things but not insults. And here, after being humiliated in consecutive rounds, he feels insulted. And so Waugh Sr. responds in the only way he knows: through ruthless aggression. The former Aussie skipper first beats Hooper at his own game by hopping around and throwing him off and then catches his opponent on the nose with a thundering jab. “I’m the boss of ICC tournaments, baby” he says as his bowling average of 30.89 is conveniently superior to Hooper’s 35.87.

Hooper - 8  Waugh - 10

ROUND 4 ----> RUNS PER INNINGS (ICC TOURNAMENTS): WAUGH ALMOST KNOCKS HOOPER OUT

HOLY MOLY THAT WAS CLOSE! THAT WAS SO, SO CLOSE! Hooper evades a Round 4 knockout by a whisker. Still dazed by the blow in R3, Hooper is shabby, and thus realizing this, Waugh, for whom ICC tournaments act as enablers, floors the West Indian with a rip-roaring right cross. The Aussie thinks that his average of 31.5 has knocked out his opponent, but with his average of 16.39 Hooper hangs on, just about, getting up in time before the ref’s ten count. THE TABLES HAVE TURNED!

Hooper - 6  Waugh - 10

ROUND 5 ---> WICKETS PER INNINGS: THREEEEE IN A ROW FOR STEVE WAUGH!

Three in a row for Waugh but he won’t be happy here; Hooper is threatening to bounce back in the contest. Knowing he had Hooper in the ropes in R4, the Aussie goes for a similar ambitious right cross in an attempt to knock the West Indian out, but ‘Hoops’ sways away. Not only that, the Guyanese Gladiator fires back with a jab of his own. Waugh is momentarily rattled, but he rebuts with a rear hook to walk away with the round. Waugh’s 1.06 wickets per innings just about gets him the W over Hooper’s 1.05. 

Hooper - 9  Waugh - 10

ROUND 6 ---> STRIKE RATE (BATTING): HOOPER HAS BOXED BACK THE INITIATIVE

CARL HOOPER IS OFFICIALLY BACK FROM THE DEAD. The lanky all-rounder finally strikes back after being mercilessly pounded for three long rounds. Following the template of R3, Waugh, ambitious as ever, makes the first move with his SR of 75.91, but this time around there is no reward for mediocrity. With some new-found energy, Hooper goes hopping again and thunders his Aussie counterpart back with a startling one-two combo in the form of his SR of 76.63. GAME ON!

Hooper - 10  Waugh - 9

ROUND 7 ------> ECONOMY RATE: SUDDENLY, IT’S ALL HOOPER!

Rule number one of Sport is to never let your opponent wrestle back the momentum and Waugh, you wonder, would be kicking himself for letting Hooper back into the contest. Waugh’s defensive technique with the bat was alright, but with the ball, it turns out that he is no match for Hooper. The West Indian, whose off-spin was akin to darts, pummels Waugh with a punch as quick as the right-arm bullets he delivered back in the day and that is enough for him to keep his opponent quiet and triumph in this round. Cooper’s ER of 4.36 is 0.20 better than Waugh, whose dibbly dobblers have rendered ineffective here.

Hooper - 10  Waugh - 9

ROUND 8 -----> FREQUENCY OF FIFTY-PLUS SCORES: COOPER TRUMPS WAUGH WITH THE BAT, TOO

Cocky as ever despite being down in the contest, “Bring your Willow out mate, we’ll see who wins” utters Waugh, confident that he’ll overpower his opponent with the bat. But little does he know that he’s in for an unpleasant surprise. Waugh scores a fifty once every 6 innings and he thinks it’s great (which it is) but he ends up underestimating the batting prowess of Hooper by letting his guard down. Remarkably, the West Indian, who incredibly scores a fifty once every 5.72 innings, powers back with a lead hook to hand yet another L to the former Aussie skipper. The turnaround is almost complete.

Hooper - 10  Waugh - 9

ROUND 9 -----> BATTING AVERAGE AS CAPTAIN: WAUGH HANGS ON - JUST ABOUT

Many a time in his career Waugh, after being written off, has come back from the brink, and after threatening to throw in the towel - ironically, despite being on the verge of victory three rounds ago - he manages to stay alive. Both these men were extremely inspiring skippers in their own ways, but when it comes to leading from the front with the bat, let’s just say Hooper was not quite as good as Waugh. The Guyanese all-rounder throws a right jab - his best effort - in the form of his average of 33.05, but Waugh evades it and responds with a whopping rear hook to stay alive. 

Hooper - 9  Waugh - 10

FINAL ROUND -----> NO OF BALLS BOWLED PER GAME: AND HOOPER HAS DONE THE IMPOSSIBLE!

IT’S ALL OVER!! After being on the verge of getting knocked out in Round 4, Carl Hooper has turned it around to script a famous Friday Fights victory over the mighty Steve Waugh. With batting being his strength, ‘all-rounder’ Waugh’s 27.33 balls per game serves as his weapon for the final round but it is no match to Cooper’s 42.17. The West Indian, who finishes things off with an uppercut, makes Waugh look like a pie-throwing part-timer with his frequency to complete a remarkable turnaround. 

Hooper - 10  Waugh - 7

WINNER BY UNANIMOUS DECISION - CARL HOOPER

FINAL SCORE: CARL HOOPER 92-90 STEVE WAUGH

It could very well be possible that Hooper finished his 16-year-long career without doing justice to his talent, but what we learnt today was that whatever he ended up achieving was elite per se. To down a highly-regarded cricketer like Steve Waugh is no joke and Hooper, you’ve got to say, did it with elan. 

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