Former West Indies all-rounder Carl Hooper believes that the attraction of playing in the lucrative Indian Premier League (IPL) is deterring young cricketers in the region from wanting to play Test cricket.
However, the 51-year-old Hooper who played 102 Tests for the regional side, admitted that he could not blame those cricketers who chose to play in the shorter formats of the game.
“We should have seen this coming (IPL impact on Windies cricket). T20 cricket is here to stay. You got more leagues in play than what it was five years ago. It is crazy. It is going to affect us because for most young players, the ultimate aim is to sign a contract with an IPL side, so it would have a bearing on his availability for Windies cricket including Tests,” Hooper said.
“I am not going to judge players who choose IPL for Windies. You cannot be upset with a guy who doesn’t want to sign a central contract as he wants to play in other leagues. It is a tough situation. Virat Kohli can stop playing today if he wants to but none of our guys can afford to do that.”
Hooper said several of the Caribbean’s best players had played very little Test cricket for the West Indies, as they had chosen instead to participate in the numerous T20 leagues around the world.
“The IPL is just a six-week window but we have had situations where we have had someone like Sunil Narine, who picked up six wickets in his last Test (in 2013), has not played for us again. Same goes for Gayle and Kieron Pollard.
“I am not saying they were finished products in the longest format but at 26-27, let’s say if Pollard played Test cricket, who knows, he could have developed as a good Test cricketer,” Hooper said.
“But he stuck to the shorter formats. So we are missing players. Evin Lewis just decided to push back on a central contract. He is good enough to play Test cricket. So the shorter versions of the game curtail our progress. Having said that, it would be unfair to blame the players for making the choice (of playing IPL). We all want to be financially secure at the end of the day.”
Hooper said he hoped Shimron Hetmyer who starred in the recently concluded Caribbean Premier League, would go on to play Test cricket.
“Someone like a Shimron Hetmyer, who has had very good CPL, is highly rated. Now he can be picked up in the IPL next season and I would hate to lose him to the IPL,” he said.