Sammy praises West Indies' fighting spirit
"As you saw, the crowd, who are very understanding, treated the drawn result as a win for us because we got out there and fought," Darren Sammy said, at the end of a day when West Indies came out with their heads held high. They walked around the ground, with the crowds cheering them on wildly.
The West Indies' fighting spirit first came to the fore on the third day of the Test. They were a bowler short but the rest of their attack fought on impressively. Even then you wondered whether the batsmen would rise to the challenge in the second innings. After all, the bowling unit had done well through the series; it was the batsmen who had let the team down. However, led by Shivnarine Chanderpaul and Kirk Edwards and propped up by a wonderful rearguard action from the indefatigable Fidel Edwards, the batsmen gave a stirring performance.
"That's exactly what the coach and the public have been asking for," Sammy said. "Even if we are not winning games, as long as we go and show the fight that we showed in this Test … the batsmen saw how hard the bowlers worked to get the wickets, so that was motivation enough for them to go out and give them some rest and more time in the dressing room. The way we batted in the second innings: Shiv, Kirk and even Fidel [who] faced more than a 100 balls. It was really pleasing to see the fight shown by both the batting and the bowling departments."
Sammy said he was happy with the result, though he was a touch surprised that the Indians shut shop early. "With 15 overs to go and 86 runs required, and considering the calibre of players they have like Dhoni and guys who can hit the ball, I thought they would it give it a go, being one-up. But I guess [with] my ploy to have [Devendra] Bishoo bowl in the rough, they didn't fancy their chances of going after him. I am quite happy with the result. Starting the first innings, with one of our main bowlers Ravi [Rampaul] down, the way the guys stuck at it, we showed a lot of character. And the batting came good in the very last innings of the series … it helped us salvage a draw. So well done to the team."
Apart from the bowlers, Sammy said the spirit show the team showed was a big positive. "We've got some really young players in there. If we had bowled better after we had India 80-something for six [in the first Test in Jamaica] or if we had scored more runs in Jamaica or Barbados, it could have been a different result. But you can't fault the bowling effort or the way we batted here."
Kirk came through in the middle order, Chanderpaul returned with a bang, Marlon Samuels played a fine knock in the second Test and Darren Bravo played couple of innings of substance. But the openers haven't seized the opportunities. "I would have loved to have seen the young guys like [Lendl] Simmons, [Adrian] Barath, [Kieran] Powell do well. They have shown signs they are capable of scoring runs, like Barath playing well in his comeback innings in the first Test. But it's about being consistent. They are still young: Powell has made his debut, Barath and Simmons have played around eight Test matches. So there's a little bit of inexperience. They will have to back their talent and continue to work hard with Desmond [Haynes] … [and] there will be some improvement."
Sammy himself has been at the centre of the storm for a while. There have been questions raised over his spot in the Test team and he said he expected it when he took up the job. "My back is broad. I will still come out smiling. You can't please everyone. The best man who walked the face of the earth never did anything wrong, but he was still crucified. And I am nowhere close to that.
"So I think I am in line for a lot of criticism. It comes with the job. What the public wants is performance. If you judge me on what I do on the field of play, I go about doing my job - the field placements and bowling changes. I think I have done okay. I can't captain when there are two people out there batting. It's for them to put on a partnership."
His batting has led to more criticism and Sammy said he was working hard on it. "I have got a few options. There's Desmond, the Sagicor Performance Centre, and I have a coach at home. Dessie has suggested a few things that I can improve and I am working on them: my back-lift and playing across the ball. I can go back home, look at ODIs and Tests where I have done well, and take the positives from them."
Sammy came through as a bowler, bowling tireless spells and his captaincy is up for review. His tenure ended with this series and the board will decide whether to continue with him or not. Asked whether he would like to remain captain Sammy said: "West Indies cricket is not about Darren Sammy. There are people to appoint captains. If they give me a job, I will go out there and give it my all. I have something to offer to this team as captain. The guys are relaxed in the dressing-room and when we are out there as a bowling unit, I think the guys are really responding to me. And if the people in charge me to continue, I will do it."
Sriram Veera is a staff writer at ESPNcricinfo