Darren Sammy May 7, 2012

'I'm a proud mama's boy'

The West Indies captain loves his mum, buys her expensive gifts, and hopes she won't hear him swear too much. And did you know he's afraid of flying?

What did watching Fire in Babylon teach you?
It is very inspirational. When I first watched the film, it made me even more aware of what cricket is to the West Indian people. It opened my eyes.

Your coach Ottis Gibson is not confident you can last five days in a Test?
The coach was just being funny. It would be good if we take the Tests to four days - at least then the people will get their money's worth.

This team has faced a lot of challenges in the last few years I have been captain, but somehow we find a way to overcome the challenges.

Tell us a secret.
I am afraid of flying. You should ask the guys when the plane is taking off or landing or going through turbulent weather. I am screaming like a girl, man.

Is it true that you never swear?
That is not true at all. Sometimes you just can't help it. But my mom would be very disappointed if I swear all the time, because I was not raised like that.

So you are a mama's boy?
I am. I am a proud mama's boy.

What is the best gift you bought her?
For her 42nd birthday I bought her a brand new Toyota Corolla, 2011 model. I was away on tour, but I had the dealer deliver it with bows and ribbons and stuff, saying "Happy Birthday to the best mom in the world." My mom was at church. When she came back, the car arrived. She broke down in tears. My father even videotaped it so I could catch up with all the emotions and celebrations.

Are you religious?
I am very religious. I was brought up in a Seventh Day Adventist background. I wanted to be a pastor growing up. I was very good at it, actually, but cricket came up and I did not look back.

What happens if an atheist walks into the dressing room?
We have a culture of: whatever we do we include god in it. We are a praying team. But we will not force anything if anyone wants to sit out. But most people in the Caribbean, boys go with their moms on a Saturday or a Sunday to the church, and that is predominantly the culture there.

"Once you listen to Caribbean music, you got to move it, maan! Once I feel the music, I got to dance"

We hear you are very good at dancing.
I can shake a leg, even if I am not the best dancer in the dressing room. Coming from the Caribbean, we have a good history of reggae and dance. Once you listen to Caribbean music, you got to move it, maan! Once I feel the music, I got to dance. I know there is a show called Dancing With the Stars. If St Lucia had its own programme, I would be the first one to participate. My son, Darren Dan Sammy Jr, is a better dancer than me.

What's the best dish to eat when in the Caribbean?
If it is St Lucia, it is green fig and salt fish. If you go to Barbados, you got to try the flying fish. In Jamaica go to Courtney Walsh's restaurant, Cuddy'z, where you've got to try the steam fish.

What is the fastest you have timed yourself at running 100 metres?
I was too afraid of losing, so I never ran 100 metres.

Have you ever met Usain Bolt?
Yes, I met Usain recently when we played in Jamaica and he came in to the dressing room. He is quite a funny guy as well. I kind of see a little bit of myself in him: just the way he carries himself, he looks like he is enjoying what he is doing. You can see the passion when he runs and in his celebrations. It is like me when I go out on the cricket field. I try to live everything out there.

Are you better at celebrations than him?
We are in two different sports and we have different styles of celebrations, but we get the same reactions from the fans. In the West Indies dressing room, there is no lack of people when it comes to celebrations: Dwayne Bravo, Fidel Edwards, Chris Gayle, Andre Russell are all good.

You seemed to have decided on when Ricky Ponting's last Test would be, recently. (Ponting told Sammy in their last Test that Gayle should have been captain. Sammy replied with: "This is your last Test")
From the start of the series we had decided we are not going to back down if they sledge. And from the very first game in St Vincent, they were giving us a lot. But we stuck it up to them. I remember Kieron Pollard, before he left for the IPL, told me we need to stay strong in the Test series. I know Ponting was going through a difficult phase, just like me, and was not scoring runs. So we felt it was a good opportunity to stick that line up, and he got angry, actually. I remember two balls before I caught him at leg gully, he gloved the ball. I said, "Oh my god, he is going to finish his career like Muhammad Ali." The next ball, he once again gloved. I said, "There you go", and repeated the Ali line. He stared back at me, angrily. But at the end of the series they invited me for a drink, and it was good fun.

What is one weakness you have?
I can't say no. Maybe that is why I get run out.

Are you talkative?
I am a friendly guy. I talk to everybody.

What is the best compliment you've got from a West Indies fan?
There is a song in the Caribbean that runs along the lines "Keep on doing what you doing, Sammy" and fans keep singing it to me. I enjoy that. But the best compliment came from a lady recently. She said, "I know what you are going through is tough but the majority is silent. We are all behind you. Keep on doing what you are doing." When I hear stuff like that, it gives me hope.

Nagraj Gollapudi is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

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