ICC Cricket World Cup 2011 / News

Bangladesh v West Indies, World Cup 2011, Group B, Mirpur

Time for Sammy to stand up

Sidharth Monga in Dhaka

March 3, 2011

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Darren Sammy's Twitter page has been quiet of late. There is no flamboyance of old. He is not talking, social-networking rather, of the honey from the comb, of slippery balls, of fine legs. To be fair to Sammy, those were the days before the West Indies captaincy happened to him. Things have changed since then. His last sign of flair was on January 10 when he tweeted: "Nurses needed@ the Sir viv stadium, windwards team will be in labor,contractions from 4pm. STARS WILL BE BORN." And this is a tamer version of the old Sammy.

It is fair to say that captaincy has mellowed down the tweeter in Sammy. It is a sign of the responsibility that captaincy of a group of islands with a proud cricketing history brings. Sammy also knows that captaincy brings with itself another responsibility: that of individual performance to be able to command the respect of a disparate team, to justify his selection as a player first. While he has successfully established a measure of control on his tweeting, the same can't be emphatically said on the performance front.

In ODIs, Sammy last took a wicket against a Test-playing nation in February 2010. As captain, he averages 75.33 with the ball and 8.5 with the bat. Then again, he is not the kind of cricketer that will be done justice to by numbers alone. Sammy the cricketer is the exact opposite of Sammy the tweeter. No one expects him to set the world on fire with either his batting or bowling. What stood out before Sammy became the captain was that he was the hard-working kind, the sensible head in a team that has now earned a reputation of not always playing sensible cricket, of not always fighting till the bitter end.

Darren Sammy waves during a training session, Delhi, February 21, 2011
Darren Sammy doesn't have the flair, but he has the passion © AFP

Sammy didn't have the flair, but he had passion. Then again, the first question when he was named captain was, how far passion and hard work alone would carry him. Especially when bits-and-pieces players like him don't quite have the comfort of match-winning brilliance to fall back on. The rope is usually shorter for such players. The cold fact right now remains that Sammy bats too low for a non-threatening medium-pacer as himself to be termed an allrounder. Questions will be asked when he is the captain of the side too. In fact questions are being asked.

Sammy's response is full of the positivity that perhaps was a factor when he was named captain. "As a captain, you'd want to perform," Sammy said on the eve of the crucial match against Bangladesh in Mirpur. "For me I always feel like I am only one great performance away. I have the right mindset to lead the team, and the team is responding, and I am aware of my own personal form. The kind of person I am, the kind of mentality I have, I am only one performance away from being at my best. That's how I see it."

To make matters worse, West Indies have lost Dwayne Bravo to injury. Sammy says they have been using the loss of Bravo as their inspiration. It should also come as an opportunity for Sammy to push himself slightly higher up in the order, and also bowl more overs and look to take wickets with the ball. West Indies have never been ranked so low going into a World Cup, in terms of ICC ratings and expectations. The opponents generally still fear one of those Chris Gayle days, but not much else, especially with Bravo out of the equation. A significant performance from Sammy would go a long way in disproving that notion. He could tweet about it then.

Sidharth Monga is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

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