West Indies v India, 1st ODI, Trinidad June 5, 2011

Sammy unfazed by captaincy questions

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Captains rarely evoke sympathy. Darren Sammy does, because of the context of West Indies cricket. If he were captain of any other "weaker" side, it wouldn't be this bad. It's the burden of West Indies cricket, with its glorious past and strong leaders, which puts him under pressure. He almost doesn't fit. It's our fault really, for judging him based on nostalgia of West Indian glory, but it is he who bleeds.

Apply salve on the wound and carry on with his chin up is all that Sammy can do. "My family sends up prayers and the blessings come down," he says. "The almighty looks out." When humans are criticising, he has no choice but to dive into his faith to look after himself. Before the series began, Sammy was asked about his place in the Test side. "I go out and do what I have to do. Check the stats and stuff, I have done quite well as a Test cricketer. Whenever I step on to the field, I have West Indian cricket at the heart."

He is not West Indies' best bowler, he is not their best batsman but Sammy is their captain. It's his cross to carry and Sammy has decided to simply focus on his game. He says all the right things. Yet cracks show in his visage. There's a gaping Chris-Gayle sized hole to fill. Through the World Cup, Sammy often mentioned how Gayle was a motivational figure and how he sought his advice.

This is when Sammy's sympathetic figure helps. Not many in the Caribbean blame him for the Gayle fiasco. The heat has been turned on the board, the coach Ottis Gibson, and Gayle himself. "What can poor Sammy do? He is just doing a job that he has been asked to do, and he is doing it to the best of his ability," says a fan. "It's not his fault that he became the captain but he is trying his best to do justice."

It's that sentiment that evokes sympathy. Sammy didn't become captain because of his ambition. He became captain because the WICB was wary of the ambitions of other men, who have fallen out of favour. It's a situation similar to when Raj Singh Dungarpur, then the BCCI president, caught Mohammad Azharuddin, shy and unambitious at the time, unawares with an often quoted line from cricket lore: "Mian, captain banaoge?" (Do you want to be the captain?). Azharuddin, though, was in a different league as far as cricketing skills go compared to Sammy.

Sammy knows all he can do is to keep doing his stuff. Shut out the world. Pull down the blinds. And keep improving his game. "I have enjoyed the captaincy. Everyone is entitled to their opinions but I have the support of my team," he says. "I believe in my ability and try my best. I can be more consistent with my performances and I am striving to do that."

The question, though, is still resonating in the Caribbean. Is the team more united under Sammy? Is he being the captain best for West Indies cricket? Or is he just a stopgap solution?

Sriram Veera is a staff writer at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • CricketChat on June 6, 2011, 16:41 GMT

    Good reasoning by author. Finally, I see some validity of the argument by Sammy. Like most people, I was also misled into comparing Sammy and some of the other WI players to those of their most dominant era like, Viv, LLyod, Sobers, Kanhai, Greenidge, Roberts, Holding, etc.. I would say, ppl should treat the current WI team no higher than Zim, Bangladesh and to some extent Ireland (ODI, T20). Having too much expectations from them is doing them no good. Give them another 5/6 yrs and you can expect much better from WI team. Meanwhile, just enjoy whatever they can dish out.

  • reghuh on June 6, 2011, 14:34 GMT

    west indies, a group of jokers....they will loose all matches in this series.......hehe....i dont think there would even be a single fighting performance from them unless indians degrade their own performance considerably....... west indies without gayle and pollard is like holland - part time team

  • sarankumar91 on June 6, 2011, 12:24 GMT

    after india , i still support west indies. if they found a two great fast bowlers and allrounder and one calm batsman like lara then they will definitely enter the top five.

  • dummy4fb on June 6, 2011, 12:21 GMT

    Gouys while you mention Legends have you not realised they are not prepared to be that involved? West Indies cricket is a replica of our wider society where everyone sees for himself. So it makes no sense calling on the legends. They will only serve if there is a financial reward.

  • ARV9 on June 6, 2011, 12:19 GMT

    @Arulmurugan, I agree that Windies series is not having much attraction, sue to lack of stars. But pls dont compare IPL with inter national matches. Even Australian big bash 20-20 matches are better compared to IPL(the quality of cricket played)

    SL-Eng 1st test turned a classic on day 5.(i wonder how you find that boring).

    You can wait for the CL and see CSK lose.

  • dummy4fb on June 6, 2011, 12:05 GMT

    I simply don't get it with all the talk about preparing pitches to suit bowlers. At this stage of their careers and they can't adapt to different conditions, then something is sorely wrong. Why do bowlers trying to bowl at 90 miles an hour on a pitch that is "flat and unhelpful" as the pundits put it?

  • jupiterlaw on June 6, 2011, 12:04 GMT

    @aruulmurugan No one said that test cricket was the most popular form of cricket, all we are saying is that it is the highest form of it. If you really want to be tested as a cricketer you play test cricket, but if you want to make some big bucks quickly, you play T20.

  • dummy4fb on June 6, 2011, 9:24 GMT

    Statisticians may not agree, but IPL is definitely bigger than this series no wonder players preferred that over this series England and SL are boring us to death there and now this, looking forward to CL dates

  • paradox007 on June 6, 2011, 8:48 GMT

    @Jama your're comment does not make sense. WI cricket has been at a low for a long time maybe too long as some would have expected, however from time to time they do perform and still show that the talent is there, they just need the right leadership both for the Cricket board and Captain.

    Sammy should continue to serve because he serves with his heart, something the WI has not seen for some time even when Gayle was there. However after some trial time if he's not performing then the Captaincy should be changed but his cricket has become better since taking over as Captain

    @Shankaranarayanan Pichumani interesting comment and a recommendation I believe is worthwhile

  • predfox on June 6, 2011, 6:47 GMT

    All hope is not lost for WI. Gayle effect is not as powerful as it is made out to be - search 'predictive analytics in cricket'. The WI top and middle order must prevail over Ashwin and co, and they can give this Indian side a good run for their money.

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