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Windies need to win opener: Hooper

28/01/2003 09:21:13 AM Comments (0)

West Indies needs to win its opening match at cricket's World Cup against host South Africa in order to perform well at next month's tournament, team captain Carl Hooper said.

"I think it is important to win our first game against South Africa," captain Hooper said at the end of a two-week preparatory camp in Antigua.

"I've got a sneaking feeling that how well we do in the first game is going to set the tone for the rest of the competition."

West Indies faces South Africa in the tournament opener in Cape Town on February 9, with matches against New Zealand, Bangladesh, Canada, Sri Lanka and Kenya to follow in their preliminary Group B.

Hooper, 36, who missed the last two World Cups in 1996 and 1999 for personal reasons, said he has not set any individual goals.

"This World Cup is not about Carl Hooper," he said. "It is about West Indies cricket. We have slowly, but surely turned the corner. This is going to be a good launch pad to say 'Look, West Indies cricket is back and a force to be reckoned with."'

A Carl Hooper XI team, scoring 2-275 off 46.2 overs, recorded an eight-wicket win over a Ridley Jacobs XI (6-252 off 50 overs) in the last of two practice matches under lights at the Stanford Cricket Ground on Sunday.

The team is comprised of 15 members and five reserves. Cricket officials had selected two players from the Leeward Islands for the two-week training camp in Antigua.

The team, which announced on Sunday the loss of Marlon Samuels due to recurring knee problems, leaves for South Africa on Tuesday. Samuels, a 22-year-old Jamaican, will be replaced by left-handed all-rounder Ryan Hinds of Barbados, officials said.

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