WI v Australia, 1st Test, Bridgetown, 5th day April 11, 2012

Sammy's glimpse of paradise


Kensington Oval's dressing rooms are close together, only a clear glass partition separating the viewing areas of the two competing teams. Upon leaving the field in the aftermath of a three-wicket defeat, West Indies captain Darren Sammy had an eyeful of what it means to win a great Test match. On the other side of the glass Australia's players had dissolved into a huddle of embraces, whoops and back-slaps, while the disconsolate hosts looked on.

Sammy's team is developing slowly, but must learn the hard lessons of how to keep fighting over five days of a Test. And how to resort to more than cynical delaying tactics when the result of a match is in dispute. But Sammy said the sight of Australia rejoicing would stay with him, until he has the chance to do it himself.

"We dominated a top side with some good players and the way I heard them celebrating on the balcony means a lot to me," Sammy said. "We'll take that to heart and look to come back strong in Trinidad. I told the guys at the end of the Test match to keep their heads up. We did a lot of good things. I can remember in the pre-match interview both captains said one bad hour could turn the game around and that's exactly what happened in this Test match. We dominated Australia for three and a half days and even today when we bowled, we made them fight for that 190."

Since becoming captain and forming his alliance with the coach Ottis Gibson, Sammy has taken West Indies closer to earning respect as a battling, striving team. However the lessons of past matches, including two keenly fought series against India at home and away in 2011, are as yet not fully learned.

However Sammy also pointed to the gains of the first innings, in which Kraigg Brathwaite and Kirk Edwards showed the way before Shivnarine Chanderpaul maintained his command of Caribbean batting. West Indies' bowling was steadfast, augmented usefully in the second innings by Narsingh Deonarine's off breaks - though the more mysterious finger spin of Sunil Narine was missed.

"We've learned a lot of lessons. Remember Mumbai, Kolkata, Delhi [where West Indies played last November]. Basically similar things keep happening," Sammy said. "We keep getting close but we just need to find a way to get over that hurdle. That last hurdle. We've just got to come back strong. I think the bowlers stuck to the plan most of the time. The way the batters batted in the first innings, leaving alone a lot of balls and stuff like that and Shiv again, showing his experience, the two young openers - Kraigg and Barath - at the top. We did some good stuff, we just lost it in the second innings there.

If Sammy's tactics lurched towards the defensive for too much of Australia's chase, he said he had been trying to keep a balance between searching for wickets and trying to tease the visitors out by withholding runs. Australia's captain Michael Clarke refused to criticise his opposite number for tactics that the tourists would have been unlikely to employ, and offered supportive words for the vanquished.

"I think they're probably in a tough position because they haven't got a full-strength team, do they? That must be hard for them," Clarke said. "I want to give West Indies a lot of credit. I thought the way they batted in their first innings was outstanding. I think their bowlers knew the conditions well and they bowled pretty well.

"I want to take nothing away from the guys in our change room. I thought a lot of credit needs to go to them to be able to get a win out of 450 [by the opposition] on the board on the first two days and our backs against the wall, but I'll take nothing away from West Indies. I thought they fought really hard, I think it was a fantastic Test match. "I know everybody at the ground enjoyed it, and hopefully the people back home and all around the world that watch continue to enjoy Test cricket. For me as captain, it's very important we continue to make this great game very enjoyable and we want people to come out and support us and watch, and hopefully we get a great crowd in Trinidad as well."

A memorable match will live long in Clarke's memory. As for Sammy, it will burn deeply into his.

Daniel Brettig is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. He tweets here

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Dummy4 on April 14, 2012, 20:39 GMT

    "A lot of credit must go to Ottis Gibson and Darren Sammy," Aussie coach Mickey Arthur said in the aftermath of the Kensington Oval escape. "They've really turned this team around. They're playing for each other, they're playing with a spirit that's great. It is just so good to see West Indies cricket on the up again. We've only got respect and admiration for what they've done." If the opposition can see how much we have achieved why do we continue to bash Darren Sammy, who by the way is the top WI player in the ICC Rankings in every form of the game, every time? West Indies is on its way back up and its not due to any players who lack loyalty to the West Indies team but the lethal combination of Darren and Gibson

  • Randolph on April 14, 2012, 2:39 GMT

    There is a difference, Sammy is not a great captain, but he also isn't a bad one. With the Windies how they are, you can't argue against the latter for now.

  • charlie on April 13, 2012, 19:10 GMT

    Talent is a great thing ,but to be able to transform that talent into meaningful productivity ,needs more than basic application . WI need to work diligently with the psychological aspect of each player ,in order to help them cope with the stress - level of international cricket ,for what other reason can there be for players who perform so well in regional first class level ,to fail so miserably at test level ..I don't buy the " regional- substndard " argument ,because what's good for one ,should be good for the other . Those who possess the greater" intestinal fortitude" ,do better when combining the two . [ talent/mental toughness]. I could mention a few at this time who in my opinion lack the later , but I'll refrain from doing so at this point .

  • Dummy4 on April 13, 2012, 16:02 GMT

    Sammy is trying his best he is just unlucky. The catch he dropped of Roach & how he kicked the ball onto his stumps is a testament to that. What he needs to work on is his tactics & aggression. he could have tried bowling more spin & put 3 or 4 men around the bat when Fidel & roach couldn't get the breakthrough we needed. Also when we should have bowled pace so that their would have been more of an issue with the light & the time taken to get through the overs he chose to bowl spin. that was not a smart move. The Coach should have suggested changing up the batting order a bit maybe opening with Sammy to get a few quick runs. It is obvious that Brathwaite has problems batting in the second innings so he should not have been sent out to open.

  • Zorina on April 13, 2012, 11:44 GMT

    Of course Sammy is a great captain...he led West Indies to a first innings score of 449, a failure to end Australia's first innings, a collapse in West Indies second innings, a decision to waste time to secure a drawin the match and four fortuitous wickets for Deonarine in Australia's second innings. What more do we want?

  • charlie on April 13, 2012, 6:33 GMT

    "To those whom it may concern "; I do not proclaim Sammy to be the" captain superior" ,but that he is doing a great job all things being considered, as much as anyone else whom we have had in the past 15 years . To focus so much on the man ,as some are, is superfulous . As I have said before ,I'll say it again ;" the captain is only one musician in the orchestra,not the whole orchestra" and with good performing musicians his skills would be more than enough . If certain individuals had read into the game and applied themselves ,we would be having different conversations now .

  • Andrew on April 13, 2012, 2:12 GMT

    @Coll Gayle - I don't think anyone is saying that Sammy is a great captain, although he does lead the team well, which is too seperate things. The leadingership side of Sammy is that the team at least seems to be trying hard to compete, which is something that was lacking over the last 15 years with the WIndies. Gayle is a better player, & slightly better tactician then Sammy, but the side was uninspired under him. That is not the case with this mob under Sammy (IMO)!

  • Dummy4 on April 12, 2012, 22:51 GMT

    Simonviller Sammy became a talking point because of you guys who are giving him name as great captain when he is no better than any other captain in the 21st century. Sammy is a fit for the T20 & ODI but not for Test in my opinion. I would like to point out some think I notice from the WI tour of India Sammy was not 100% fit he did not bowled 28.1 overs of his possible 50 in the ODI when he is one of the main bowler in the set up and I am seeing the same problem in this series, If he and the management truly love WI cricket he should voluntarily sit out the next Test.

  • Dummy4 on April 12, 2012, 22:08 GMT

    @clive Gibson basically said that he wanted his senior players to produce as though they were senior. For too long we had players who were running the show, now the WICB, gibson and sammy are running it, things seem to be on the way up. The players understand that they must either produce or roll out.

  • Dummy4 on April 12, 2012, 20:21 GMT

    well i must admit that the only good thing gibson bring to the team is that the bowling has improve a lot and that's what the team of old was missing if there is any separation in the team is he who started it for if he did have his way chanderpaul wouldn't been in the team just like gayle and sars. and i don't no if i was the only one who notice but anyone who can get the clip of when chanderpaul makes the hundred and every one clapping and laughing not a smile come out of him and that's not his reaction when some of his boys do something good before anyone jump up one side of me and down the other side try and get a look at the replay and see for yourself if gibson did come in and try and work with the team they would be in a better position some people say gayle is selfish but if someone just after loosing the captain go out and make 333 run under the new captain and its right after that they go to the w.c where the whole team fail and the coach blaming a few players that was wrong

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