December 14, 2012

'We have to beat Australia, England and South Africa'

Darren Sammy isn't satisfied with West Indies' recent success. He wants his side to hunger for more

One of the lasting images of 2012 will be that of West Indies captain Darren Sammy holding the World Twenty20 trophy aloft. After three rough years in charge, he has finally led West Indies to a title they can cherish. Sammy spoke to ESPNcricinfo about the tournament and how he views his time as captain

The last time you spoke to ESPNcricinfo was just after you had drawn a Test against Indiain Dominica . A lot has happened since then.
I was at a New Year's party with my friends and family. They kept telling me to make 2012 my year. It's funny because my birthday is on the 20th of the 12th month, so this year it will be 20/12 on 2012. This year I will [really] celebrate my birthday!

It has been a good year for us as a team. The highlight of it was winning the World Twenty20 in Sri Lanka. We have taken baby steps along the way in Tests and ODIs, things like competing against higher-ranked opposition like Australia in Tests. I always thank and pray to the lord. We had a rough time but now we are seeing a little bit of success, so it is always good.

You started the World Twenty20 as one of the favourites but made a slow start. What did you think when the Ireland match was rained off?
We believed that once we played to our full potential, we could win the tournament. The game against Ireland ensured we went through to the Super Eights and we reflected on the previous winner, England, who went through the first round without winning a game.

The moment I really believed that we were going to win the World Cup was in the game against New Zealand. After we went through that game, I felt nothing would stop us from winning. I remember during that chase there was little difference between balls and runs. I was on the boundary where I closed my eyes and said a prayer to god. "This is not the way I had envisioned [it], there's no way we are going home." Slowly the game unfolded and we all know what happened.

The coach has instilled discipline and professionalism, and the guys are making a conscious effort to work hard and play for the Caribbean people. It has paid off.

Coming into the final, what did you feel when the scoring rate was slow at the start?
I think we were 42 in ten overs [32 for 2]. [Dwayne] Bravo and [Marlon] Samuels got ten runs in the following over [12th over] - the highest till that point. Our backs were against the wall but I was still smiling. The coach asked me why. I said I just have a strong feeling that we will win the game. The coach said if we score as much as we did against Sri Lanka in the first round, we would win the game. It so happened that we won convincingly.

As I was talking to the coach, Samuels just took control of the show. I guess the XI that went out there on the field knew what everybody was capable of doing. It was a complete team effort.

Was it also a vindication of your captaincy?
No, no, no. One of the mottos I live by is that everything in life happens for a reason. I knew somewhere around the corner, with all the criticism, the lord will shine on me and the team someday. He waited for the grand finale to shine upon us. We now have a new, revived belief. When we step out, we believe that we can not only compete but win against higher-ranked opposition.

"Captaincy has made me even more responsible, more aware of my surroundings. It has made me become a better man, exercising patience, become strong mentally"

What was your most cherished memory of the final
We know how to celebrate and party. Lifting the cup and seeing all my team-mates and the coaching staff smiling was the most important point in all the celebration.

Having said that, the reception Jonathan Charles and I received when we returned to St Lucia was just amazing. Thousands of people came out to meet us at the airport, and as we drove into the city, every community came out to the street to cheer for us. It was something we needed in the Caribbean. For years and years, we have been craving for silverware. Cricket is the one thing that unifies the people, and the manner in which we won, with our backs against the wall, it was very important.

I know the players will fall back on these memories whenever we are in a lull. These experiences will definitely make the team stronger.

Daren Ganga said it is a matter of time that Trinidad & Tobago plays as a separate nation.
That's his view. I tend to differ from that. People were probably disappointed in the way in which we were playing, but they still watch. Once we do well, you see them having fun, drinking in the rum shops. If you ask anybody now, cricket is the main sport of the Caribbean.

You have now seen both bad and good times as a captain. How much has captaincy changed you?
It has made me even more responsible, more aware of my surroundings. It has made me become a better man, exercising patience, become strong mentally. The pressure that comes with being a captain - you still need to have a level head to go out there day in and day out to work and lead your team-mates; you have to be a strong person.

It has made me a stronger individual, a stronger husband and a more family-oriented guy. It has made me cherish life even more. Things are slowly turning around but I know that nothing lasts forever. I still have to put in an honest day's work and be consistent in what I do. The most important thing is that I know who I am. I understand myself. I accept myself for what and who I am. When I go out there, I could only be me.

How has Chris Gayle's return been for you?
I have never had any issues with Chris and he doesn't have any issues with me. We all know what happened throughout the time he was out. It wasn't my doing, [it was] a board decision. It has been dealt with and we are just happy to have him back and the team is doing well.

Chris has always been a character in the dressing room. We all love to watch him bat and the youngsters have enjoyed batting with him.

I am sure we have passed that stage in our cricket and we are building a stronger, united West Indies cricket team.

And have you been enjoying Marlon Samuels' second coming?
I am really happy for him. After being out of cricket for two years, he has carried the batting with [Shivnarine] Chanderpaul and the rest of the youngsters. He seems very hungry to go out and perform.

There are more helping hands for you with the seniors coming back, the coach, and a manager in Richie Richardson, also a former West Indies captain. Has the captaincy burden become lighter?
I wouldn't call it a burden. It's good to have experience around you, have people who give you good advice and help you along, because they have been through certain situations. I have made it my duty to involve senior players in decision-making on the field. I am one who is never too big to take advice from any player.

We still have a long way to go. The T20 win doesn't mean West Indies is back on top. We have to beat Australia, England and South Africa. Once we start doing that consistently, the team will be heading in the right direction.

How do you remain true to yourself with all that is going on around you?
I give a lot of credit for who I am to the way my parents raised me. I was raised in a very happy home, where I saw my father treat my mother very well. My mother is a fighter. Maybe she didn't know where the next meal would come from, but she believed that god will find a way. She raised me in a god-fearing home.

I have made so many mistakes in life but the good thing is that I am aware of what's right and wrong. I question myself when I do the wrong thing. I got a few simple rules in life.

One of them is what I spoke about post-match of the T20 World Cup final - I believe that no matter who you are and what situation you are in, if god knew you couldn't handle it, he wouldn't put you through it. When there's all the talk in the media about me, I say this to myself. And no matter what you're going through, there's still somebody who's going through more than you.

I guess I am in a happy stage in my life. I will be 29 years old and I have done what I wanted as a little boy - to play for West Indies. Now I am something that I never thought would be - the captain. I must cherish that.

I have a lovely wife who is carrying my child right now. I have two beautiful boys. My parents support me, I have great friendships. I got no reason to be angry at the world. I am just a happy lad and I'm just being me. I don't let anybody steal my joy.

Many captains in world cricket are going through a tough time. Do you have any advice for them?
(Laughs) I would love to get advice from guys like Michael Clarke. He has batted so well throughout the year. Also Alastair Cook, the way he is batting. Once we ride the tough times and we believe what we are trying to do is the right thing, god will show us the way. Do it with a smile on your face. The more you do that, the younger you look, that's what I know. People love the way I smile. But I smile only because I'm a happy guy.

Mohammad Isam is ESPNcricinfo's Bangladesh correspondent

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Dummy4 on December 16, 2012, 14:23 GMT

    Wish you very good luck for future Dear. You shld talk to WICB regarding Jerome Taylor as he and roach/Rampal shld be in squad in all formats of Games.

    All rounder didn't perform well in Bang Tour shld play with Jerome and Roach/Rampal means two real fast bowler instead of Russal. As already Wi have pollard who actually more dependable instead of russal, and if Bravo come back its tough to decide about team selection.

    Future Series is against AUS must play with Jerome and Roach on those fast pitches.

  • Dummy4 on December 15, 2012, 23:14 GMT

    I don't understand why many West Indian fans criticise the captain everytime I mean I've been keeping up with all the highlights in the whole Ban-West series and he's a pretty useful all-rounder and leader. His bowling is actually very good though he may not have the pace so I don't understand what the fuss is all about. Also has a fantastic personality a cool headed and funny guy. Anyway West Indies are a team climbing up now and wish them all the best.

  • RYAN on December 15, 2012, 9:13 GMT

    What makes him a great leader ? Many cricket commentators and professionals have questioned his place in the team. Every time that issue comes up he would have a good match ( runs, wickets or both ) but that is only an occasional performance. As for the IPL issue I recall at the last IPL auction he was offered $ 70000. Obviously he turned this down for the higher paying, higher profile job of WI skipper.

  • Garfield on December 15, 2012, 3:17 GMT

    Great Leader! WI will burn him out in couple of years if he has to keep captaining all 3 formats. I believe he can be a top 5 player if allowed to focus on ODI and t20. He deserves to earn some IPL money and would be a great asset to any team next year with WI clearing schedule during IPL. Windies will rise in 2013! P.S.- Bang. ODI team is better than India and SL.

  • Gregory on December 15, 2012, 2:31 GMT

    It's Johnson Charles not Jonathan.

    Besides that, I have and always will respect Darren Sammy. He is a great example of a humble captain and a patriotic cricketer.

  • Dummy4 on December 15, 2012, 1:18 GMT

    wi have the batsmen to beat any team but when your bowlers are so indisciplined twenty five extras, short down leg ,short way outside off doyou expect to win those games?

  • i on December 14, 2012, 21:56 GMT

    Well they just lost one day series against Bangladesh and nearly lost the T20 match! They have to go long way to beat the top teams for sure.

  • Dummy4 on December 14, 2012, 20:23 GMT

    First try to beat Bangladesh Sammy...

  • Jay on December 14, 2012, 19:36 GMT

    I get what he' saying but dear Sammy, WI is far from total world dominance. In fact they haven't even started. In T20, WI will always have an edge given the number of their players playing around world leagues. But in ODIs and tests, it will take a monumental effort and unity in the Caribbean to put WI cricket at the summit where it would rightfully belong. My father watched the Les Invincibles of the late 70s and 80s. He would tell me tales of WI batsmen who made the cricket ball look like a squash ball, and WI bowlers who made the opposition batsmen tremble in fear. Gone are those days and sadly so. However, WI need to keep believing in themselves and take one series at a time. They need to start beating teams at home. Once that is achieved, then they should look at the next task. Unlike India, it's important to DISTINGUISH successes across different formats of the game. Winning a 50 over world cup is NOT the same as being a no.1 test team. Sadly, many Indian fans fail to see that.

  • Dummy4 on December 14, 2012, 18:39 GMT

    All d best best WI ...beat ...Australia, England and South Africa

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