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

Sammy unfazed by captaincy questions

32

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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • KunalNanda on June 6, 2011, 6:42 GMT

    The problem is not the players but the administration. West Indies need to look inside. Legends like Viv Richards and Clive Lloyd need to be involved. Their views need to be heard, regardless of how uncomfortable it may be for the administrators. The WICB needs to understand. Without performances, THERE IS NO MONEY. Its all about money. Sports administration is all about money.

  • barath_narayanan on June 6, 2011, 6:26 GMT

    Hoping for a good performance by indian team :)

  • on June 6, 2011, 6:11 GMT

    May not seem like that from the outside, but check Sammy's stats as a West Indian cricketer. There are as good or better than some of the great cricketers in their early starts in West Indies cricket. I understand the public has waited and hoped for those consistent victories, but cricket has changed. Everyone wears helmets now, very few bowlers are at the least, mildly feared, we had that before. We dont send India home with half the team injured like we did before. The cricket world has caught up and surpassed us. We have to be smart, when we host teams with spinners, prepare wickets that support our type of bowling like everyone else does, that why its called home court advantage. Let our players make a living and come back to support WI cricket. Schedule Important matches when you have the best XI available. Considering the state and politics of West Indies cricket, I think Sammy is doing a fine job. Gayle and many others may have cracked under the pressure by now.

  • on June 6, 2011, 5:39 GMT

    WestIndies should send their spinners like bishoo to play a season or two in indian ranji season, it will definitely help him develop his skills, also they should some of their young batsmen too most of them cant handle spinners in proper spinner tracks so its better learn from the subcontinent domestic teams that will help them build a better team for future.

  • skidmarks on June 6, 2011, 5:28 GMT

    i hope windies give them a good whipping

  • gottalovetheraindance on June 6, 2011, 5:09 GMT

    everyone is jumping up to criticize Chris but how many looked at the timing & context of his words? under his captaincy we had just barely recovered the wisden trophy after 10 long years without winning a match. he played a huge role in us winning that series + we got away with a few draws. . Sri Lanka players wanted to play ipl so they refused to tour England. the wicb because of greed suddenly decided to take their space. this is with scant regard for our players who had contracts with ipl teams. he was wrong to say what he did but given loss in earnings, the depressing change of climate from warm India to Freezing England & the type of decisions made by the board i understand his frustration! any sensible board would have wanted to savor the series victory for a while & not risk handing back the wisden trophy so soon! can u imagine that happening with the ashes or sunil gavaskar trophy? the problem is lack of good management. only Pakistan can Understand our pain!!

  • on June 6, 2011, 4:24 GMT

    ThE best XI for Windies: LMP Simmons(wk), AB Barath, DM Bravo, RR Sarwan, Shiv Chanderpaul(capt.), DJ Bravo, Kieron Pollard,SJ Benn, Devendra Bishoo,Taylor/Roach, Fidel Edwards.

  • Jama on June 6, 2011, 4:08 GMT

    West Indies and New Zealand should be stripped of the test cricket status. Ireland should be tried for the test matchres.

  • US_Indian on June 6, 2011, 2:23 GMT

    Just on the dot mr Nigel Moreau. People should shed their egoes aside and put nation and its pride above everything, if that happens, the sooner the better, I dont see any reason why WI can't regain their lost glory, I believe same goes to Pakistan, these two are the most enigmatic and unpredicatble and exciting teams. "United we stand-divided we fall" I am an Indian but wish both WI and Pakistan to regain their lost glory and add charm and excitement to the game of cricket. With Australia,south Africa, now India is coming good along with SriLanka and England slowly inching there way up if these two teams WI and Pak could find their way up, the game of cricket will be more interesting to watch.

  • on June 6, 2011, 0:20 GMT

    So we will hear for the rest of eternity that Sammy did not ask for the job it was forced on him, fair enough he is a great guy and his heart is in the right place, fair enough again, now the question still looms can he lead a team to win a series? As for the continued comments about players are not bigger than the game, I totally agree, but tell me is the WICB bigger than the players? Is the coach bigger than the players? The current issues are not the making of any one party, ALL parties are just as guilty Board, Coach and Players alike and it is time they put their act together and fix the mess!! ALL of them Gayle, Sars, Shiv, WICB, Gibson and Sammy too. This is West Indies Cricket, it is not these guys inheritance their parents died and left them, it is Bigger than All of them!!

  • on June 5, 2011, 22:57 GMT

    Since the appointment of Darren Sammy as captain to WI, there has been a lot of criticism of the young man, such as he is not worthy to be captain, creates imbalance to the team etc. Is this this a fair criticism? I will respond by quoting him: "I go out and do what I have to do. Check the stats and stuff, I have done quite well as a Test cricketer. The following info is provided for analysis and comparason for test only due to its nature: Players Test Wickets Avg S Rate Econ

    D Sammy 13 39 27.66 58.8 2.81 K Roach 12 40 29.90 57.3 3.12 J Taylor 29 82 35.64 60.1 3.55 F Edwards 43 122 39.43 59.5 3.97 D Bravo 40 86 39.83 75.1 3.17 D Powell 37 85 47.85 83.2 3.44 Fast/Medium pace bowlers with 12 or more test.

    We need to get away from comparing our cricketers, especially, capt against former greats of WI.Proper critique should be done on present situation. It was just a couple of months ago persons were calling for Sammy to be on the team. You decide! Speed is not all!

  • on June 5, 2011, 22:36 GMT

    Of course I feel for the state of our cricket,but Sammy is not the reason. It is far more complicated.Sammy is giving his best and he is doing it consistently, and that is what any organisation would like to see. Sammy is an avg player in charge of a very avg team.However if we can get the simple things right we can be more competitive. Take yr simple catches, avoid no balls,improve yr ground fielding.Our bowling attack is generally good. It's not doom and gloom.Let's support SAMMY, by all means highlight his mistakes,in this way he will learn.

  • on June 5, 2011, 22:16 GMT

    Sammy's passion has to be admired, but at the end of the day, his place in the team will be questioned. His bowling keeps him in the team, but he gets wickets through slower balls and pace variations. Once this is figured out, he can be played quite easily by opposition batsmen. The WI need an inspirational figure, whose place cannot be easily questioned. Whether this individual is Gayle, Sarwan, or someone else is another matter. Anyway, for now, WI fans should wish Sammy all the best because his heart is in the right place.

  • on June 5, 2011, 21:37 GMT

    Sammy has been criticised a lot but he has performed, constantly. I love his character and wish him all the best in the Indian tests.

  • tropicalkingb on June 5, 2011, 21:35 GMT

    Sadly in the history of cricket Sammy would just be a blemish as captain. The poor guy is destined to fail. I like the guy and his passion, but he does not deserve to be treated in this manner. He took a job nobody wanted, with a side nobody wanted to be on. That speaks tons about his commitment to WI cricket. Go down swinging Sammy. You have at least one Trini fan

  • on June 5, 2011, 21:11 GMT

    I guess even today (if they play) our retired cricketers can do better than this current generation,

  • Nampally on June 5, 2011, 21:05 GMT

    WI always had great captains going back to Alexander, Worrell, Sobers, Lloyd, Richards, Lara, etc. But in the recent times, WI captaincy was not always given to a superstar as in the past.If Gayle is deficient, you do not replace him with Sammy, who is neither an established batsman or a bowler. This is the main issue.Also by dropping Gayle, WI is badly depleted. The best thing WI board can do is to call a meeting with so called rebels like Gayle, Chanderpaul, Sarwan, etc. and resolve the differences. These 3 have been heart & soul of the WI team and it is best to include them with s compromised financial terms. Sammy might be a great guy but he needs to be an automatic choice as a player first before being named Captain.By having on going disputes with players, WI team looks weaker by the day instead of a great team from the past. So WI cricket board, resolve internal dispute & put your best team on the field. That is the only way forward.

  • nafzak on June 5, 2011, 20:07 GMT

    To Harold Shockness: Gayle said no such thing. He did say words to the effect that he has a preference for the shorter and that Test matches is a dying format. Even that statement must be taken in context because Gayle and indeed most of the players were frustrated at the WICB and their lack of transparency which to this day is still a problem. Now about Sammy I wish him no ill, but not only is he not the best bowler or batsman in the WI, he is also not the best captain. That title goes to D. Ganga. Sammy is lucky tat he can pick up a few wkts thanks to poor pitches or else it would have been worse. Most West Indians including yours truly, feels that it is not a coincidence that Dr. Hilaire (Pres & CEO of WICB) and Sammy are both from St. Lucia. And no, we are not gonna beat India, even though a couple of their best players are not on tour. Otis Gibson is a joke for a coach, but that's another story for another day.

  • on June 5, 2011, 19:41 GMT

    The future of West Indies cricket look bleak if Darren Sammy is the best we can doas captain. Nothing wrong with his attitude, if only half the WI team had his passion. He cannot be a long term captain and the WICB should should look aroung for new captain. Someone should sit down with Ramnaresh Sarwan and discuss the captaincy.He can hold his place in the side.The balance of the team is ridiculous, Darren Bravo has great potential but he should be lower down the order until he establishes himself as no 3 who can make big runs. Why is Sarwan not at 3. Chris Gayle is a good cricketer, certainly not a great one but his attitude is poor and he should be made aware that he is not bigger than the game.

  • shawnsundar on June 5, 2011, 19:38 GMT

    We need a next opener, not four all-rounders on one team!

  • on June 5, 2011, 19:31 GMT

    How short sighted are cricket journalist ? Where were these same journalists when Chris Gayle was saying he did not need West Indies cricket and he hoped Test cricket would die? Can they they even attempt to question any business or organisation who is loath to employ a worker that publicly wishes the business(Test cricket) which until then employed him to fail? cricket Gave him a stage to perform, bought him to the attention of the rest of the world when he was unknown, made him a leader.Now his best wishes is for that business(Test Cricket) is for it to go into receivership and take back the job of boss as he never wanted it just the perks that came with it?

  • on June 5, 2011, 19:27 GMT

    best of luck..dont listen 2 the haters..u have my support..we're gonna beat india!!

  • No featured comments at the moment.

  • on June 5, 2011, 19:27 GMT

    best of luck..dont listen 2 the haters..u have my support..we're gonna beat india!!

  • on June 5, 2011, 19:31 GMT

    How short sighted are cricket journalist ? Where were these same journalists when Chris Gayle was saying he did not need West Indies cricket and he hoped Test cricket would die? Can they they even attempt to question any business or organisation who is loath to employ a worker that publicly wishes the business(Test cricket) which until then employed him to fail? cricket Gave him a stage to perform, bought him to the attention of the rest of the world when he was unknown, made him a leader.Now his best wishes is for that business(Test Cricket) is for it to go into receivership and take back the job of boss as he never wanted it just the perks that came with it?

  • shawnsundar on June 5, 2011, 19:38 GMT

    We need a next opener, not four all-rounders on one team!

  • on June 5, 2011, 19:41 GMT

    The future of West Indies cricket look bleak if Darren Sammy is the best we can doas captain. Nothing wrong with his attitude, if only half the WI team had his passion. He cannot be a long term captain and the WICB should should look aroung for new captain. Someone should sit down with Ramnaresh Sarwan and discuss the captaincy.He can hold his place in the side.The balance of the team is ridiculous, Darren Bravo has great potential but he should be lower down the order until he establishes himself as no 3 who can make big runs. Why is Sarwan not at 3. Chris Gayle is a good cricketer, certainly not a great one but his attitude is poor and he should be made aware that he is not bigger than the game.

  • nafzak on June 5, 2011, 20:07 GMT

    To Harold Shockness: Gayle said no such thing. He did say words to the effect that he has a preference for the shorter and that Test matches is a dying format. Even that statement must be taken in context because Gayle and indeed most of the players were frustrated at the WICB and their lack of transparency which to this day is still a problem. Now about Sammy I wish him no ill, but not only is he not the best bowler or batsman in the WI, he is also not the best captain. That title goes to D. Ganga. Sammy is lucky tat he can pick up a few wkts thanks to poor pitches or else it would have been worse. Most West Indians including yours truly, feels that it is not a coincidence that Dr. Hilaire (Pres & CEO of WICB) and Sammy are both from St. Lucia. And no, we are not gonna beat India, even though a couple of their best players are not on tour. Otis Gibson is a joke for a coach, but that's another story for another day.

  • Nampally on June 5, 2011, 21:05 GMT

    WI always had great captains going back to Alexander, Worrell, Sobers, Lloyd, Richards, Lara, etc. But in the recent times, WI captaincy was not always given to a superstar as in the past.If Gayle is deficient, you do not replace him with Sammy, who is neither an established batsman or a bowler. This is the main issue.Also by dropping Gayle, WI is badly depleted. The best thing WI board can do is to call a meeting with so called rebels like Gayle, Chanderpaul, Sarwan, etc. and resolve the differences. These 3 have been heart & soul of the WI team and it is best to include them with s compromised financial terms. Sammy might be a great guy but he needs to be an automatic choice as a player first before being named Captain.By having on going disputes with players, WI team looks weaker by the day instead of a great team from the past. So WI cricket board, resolve internal dispute & put your best team on the field. That is the only way forward.

  • on June 5, 2011, 21:11 GMT

    I guess even today (if they play) our retired cricketers can do better than this current generation,

  • tropicalkingb on June 5, 2011, 21:35 GMT

    Sadly in the history of cricket Sammy would just be a blemish as captain. The poor guy is destined to fail. I like the guy and his passion, but he does not deserve to be treated in this manner. He took a job nobody wanted, with a side nobody wanted to be on. That speaks tons about his commitment to WI cricket. Go down swinging Sammy. You have at least one Trini fan

  • on June 5, 2011, 21:37 GMT

    Sammy has been criticised a lot but he has performed, constantly. I love his character and wish him all the best in the Indian tests.

  • on June 5, 2011, 22:16 GMT

    Sammy's passion has to be admired, but at the end of the day, his place in the team will be questioned. His bowling keeps him in the team, but he gets wickets through slower balls and pace variations. Once this is figured out, he can be played quite easily by opposition batsmen. The WI need an inspirational figure, whose place cannot be easily questioned. Whether this individual is Gayle, Sarwan, or someone else is another matter. Anyway, for now, WI fans should wish Sammy all the best because his heart is in the right place.