England v WI, 2nd Test, Trent Bridge, 2nd day May 26, 2012

Someone smiling on Sammy

Darren Sammy is a proud and talented cricketer who has made something of himself, his job and his team. No one on earth could begrudge him a maiden Test hundred and 21 minutes at Trent Bridge that he will never forget.

The greatest cricketer of all time played here at Trent Bridge. They reckon he arrived the afternoon before Nottinghamshire's first match of the summer and strolled across the lush outfield in a thick sheepskin coat to watch his new team-mates at net practice. The next day, in one of the Gillette Cup 60 over matches that used to start the season, Garry Sobers took four wickets and made 60 not out on a damp pitch to see his adopted county over the line. "Well played you fellas" he said in the dressing-room after receipt of the man of the match award, "now who we got in the next round?!"

Darren Sammy will not have seen Sobers play, not live, but he will know the legend and identify with the joie de vivre. Sammy would agree that he is lucky to have played the Test matches he has and is under no illusion about the present position of West Indian cricket. There is no Sobers, no Richards or Roberts nor a Greenidge or Garner. Nothing close. But there is spirit and hope, best illustrated by the man who wears the captain's armband once worn by the incomparable Sir Garry.

At 11 o'clock this morning, beneath a sapphire sky that would have done justice to St. Lucia, Sammy walked the walk that Sobers first took all those years ago and requested a fresh guard. A blistering array of counter-attacking strokes the previous evening had left the West Indies captain 88 not out, just two clean hits from a first Test match hundred. Marlon Samuels had the strike and worked a single from the third ball of the day; Sammy played the fourth from the middle of his bat. The fifth hammered into his thigh pad, the sixth was left well alone. A few spectators still searching for their seats barely noticed these nervous moments, the rest of a sun-kissed full house were bent forward squinting through the bright light at the tense early exchange some 70 metres away.

James Anderson offered mainly a full length, examining footwork and mind. Stuart Broad bowled a few bouncers to test courage and patience. Twice Anderson passed the Sammy outside edge and threw back his head in frustration. Rarely can a cricket ground have so ached for both friend and foe. Then Sammy scorched the turf with an off drive to move to 92, which brought hardcore appreciation from the crowd.

The batsmen exchanged singles twice before the start of the 6th over of the day. Time: 11.19am, Sammy 94. The first ball was punched with feeling to mid-off, no run. Hearts beat faster, hands clammed up. Anderson jogged from gully to talk with Broad on the walk back to his mark. Feet shuffled. God knows what Anderson said. Probably nothing. Make him wait.

11.20am. Broad pitched fuller and wider, Sammy threw his life at it and the ball flew fast and safe over Anderson's head for four. Sammy 98. The hum of anticipation hummed louder, more urgent. Please, let it be. Let this good man have his moment in the Nottingham sun.

11.21am. Broad bowled a beauty, a good length and straight that moved away off the seam. Sammy, the tall, slim, smiling St Lucian - the first from his island to represent West Indies - launched himself into a contortion hitherto unseen; attempting it appeared to strike this crucial ball, the ball of his batting life, over the leg-side stands and into space.

He failed in this mission, failed utterly. But someone was with him, someone important said: "Okay Darren, you've put a bit in, taken up some slack, this is one is for you" and the ball flew from the back of the bat, passed the diving fielder at point and sped to the boundary.

Hooray! Bravo! He's done it! The crowd stood as one, roaring approval. The West Indian dressing-room the same. The batsman raised his arms to the heavenly sky and kissed the famous badge on the maroon helmet. And he smiled that wonderful smile. He is not Sir Garfield Sobers and he knows it. But he is a proud and talented cricketer who has made something of himself, his job and his team. No one on earth could begrudge Darren Sammy the Trent Bridge 21 minutes that he will never forget.

Former Hampshire batsman Mark Nicholas is the host of Channel 9's cricket coverage

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Harvey on May 28, 2012, 22:43 GMT

    After seeing Sammy bat a while ago, i thought this is a player who could get lots of runs. Just a shame his bowling leaks too many runs.

  • Lucien on May 28, 2012, 17:18 GMT

    Good knock from Sammy, its unfortunate that the only reason he is in this test side is because he is from St. Lucia like Hilaire and company. The best way to shut up your crictics is to perform and you have done that. I hope you keep making runs.

  • Subash on May 28, 2012, 13:38 GMT

    @JG I would tend to agree with you as some of the posts from my fellow Indians has been unfortunately immature.

    @Rick Seymor: No I am not bitter abt the teams demise but not happy with the attitude shown while they were losing, mainly what concerned me is the fighting spirit or lack there of shown by the future young Indian players and some of the seniors. Losing and winning is part of the game and the sole player who stood there for hours and who was worthy of that spirit was Rahul Dravid. When WI and Aus dominated the way they did, competition was not upto their potential. Today, its a completely different story with amount of cricket that is being played and given the fact that teams lack consistency makes it more interesting. I would agree with you that it will take quite a while for India to be #1 in test cricket.

  • Dennis on May 28, 2012, 6:49 GMT

    I've got to admit I"m a DJ Sammy fan ,can't understand WI supporters , this guy u gives every bit of talent this guy has for the team , his bowling record is more than adequate and he can bat as well ,hes a good captain heres hoping this century now will shut a few people up .

  • Michael on May 28, 2012, 0:28 GMT

    @Iline Richards: With respect, it turns out your prediction of England having a 300 run lead was wrong - WI trailed by 58. Also, Sammy cannot bat for the whole team. He did, however, put in a 'captain's knock' to give the team some chance in the match after the rest of the batsmen (apart from Samuels) failed. At the time of writing, the West Indies batsmen have failed in the 2nd innings too - 61/6 - with a number of lbws that indicate a technical deficiency in these conditions. England will probably go on to win from here, but it won't be because of Sammy. The poor guy gets a hundred, outscores the top 5 batsmen put together and still gets criticized!

  • Dummy4 on May 27, 2012, 21:01 GMT

    Keep on doing what yuh doing Sammy We need more Sammys (heart and confidence)

  • Dummy4 on May 27, 2012, 20:36 GMT

    Fine knock by Sammy. all the best

  • Dummy4 on May 27, 2012, 20:32 GMT

    @IndnCrktfan - yeah, you are right, simple physics. West Indies were 10 years, Australia were 20 years. India weren't even 1 year. Yes sooner or later England will not be the #1 team any more, may even happen in two or 3 months time after the Saffers, but England will be there or thereabouts for a few years yet. Rather than be bitter about your own teams demise, you should be proud an ageing team like that Indian team managed to get to #1 for the time they did, as it will be a while before India gets there again

  • stuart on May 27, 2012, 19:18 GMT

    he seems a good captain but that top 3 needs some work.Bravo hasn't kicked on this tour.

  • anthony on May 27, 2012, 14:10 GMT

    @vinay kollhatkar maybe u didnt know but the so called "full strength windies" of sarwan, gayle,chanders, bravo snr,simmons and samuels played together for many years and in the absence of Gibson and Sammy and others there was a total lack of pride, fight and spirit and the windies became the joke of world cricket. Sammy,Gibson and Chanderpaul have restored the pride with youngsters like bravo jnr,roach, doing well and samuels and rampaul starting to fufill their early promise. I do think Gayle is a superstar and in the new regime if he plays like he has the last few years he will add the missing ingrediant. Sammy should be no 6 tho with 4 other bowlers and Edwards, Powell,Barath and Sarwan to fight for the other batting space.

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