Sri Lanka will be a force to be reckoned with next year – Darren Sammy
Darren Sammy of the West Indies is one of cricket’s most loved guys.His captaincy strategies are very high more than most captains .To his country is a legend having captained for two T 20 world cups, in year 2012 winning team at RPS against Sri Lanka and in year 2016 when they were runners in Calcutta against England.But he has only one five wicket hauls and not a single fifty scored.
At this years T 20 world cup tournament Darren Sammy was a member of the commentary team had this to utter to a group of Sri Lankan journalists:
“I will never forget that World Cup final against hosts Sri Lanka at the RPS in front of a noisy Sri Lankan cricket fraternity in a packed RPS stadium . We defended a small target of 140. I actually felt for the Sri Lankan fans. You see most of the Asian teams they support their team first and then they support West Indies..
“But you know what happened at the next T 20 World Cup in Bangladesh, Sri Lanka knocked us off in the semis on Duckworth Lewis method coming to play. Mahela and Sanga had announced their retirements. So, I could sense the Gods were smiling on them. You remember that hailstorm in Dhaka. Just out of the blues it came. It was Sanga and Mahela’s time to enjoy. They have been good servants of the game of cricket and the cricketing gods were not going to let them down,” Sammy added.
Since winning that 2014 World Cup, Sri Lanka’s slide in cricket has been steep. Does their downfall surprise Sammy?
“Well, look at West Indies we have been sliding down for a longer time. The calibre of players like Mahela and Sanga it is impossible to fill those big shoes. You are not going to get another Murali. It won’t just happen like that. What you can do instead is to have a good structure and a system where youngsters will come and learn. You can help them become better cricketers. West Indies had a team that dominated for many years. But after Lara and Ambrose we are struggling. What we need to look at is how do we develop the next generation? West Indies have fallen short in doing that. If you don’t put in the work at grassroots you will struggle.”
Sammy was a commentator during the World Cup and said that he was very impressed with the young players who were on show in UAE. “Really impressed with the way Sri Lanka played. Sometimes, it is not all about winning. You could see the development and maturity among the players. I am looking forward to seeing these guys in the next World Cup. They will be a force to be reckoned with in Australia. You guys have Wanindu Hasaranga, Charith Asalanka and Pathum Nissanka. All these youngsters are superb. If you see, as the tournament progressed, they got better and better. If they go home, put in the hard yards, and show commitment they will be a powerhouse soon.”
Sammy is a popular character all over the world, but in the Caribbean, he has had a lot of criticism. It may be because as he doesn’t come from one of the bigger islands. Sammy is from tiny St. Lucia, a country that has a population of less than 200,000 people. The criticism was so intense that at one point he said, ‘2000 years ago there lived a man called Jesus. He did no wrong but yet they crucified him. Who is Darren Sammy compared to him.’ It was a quote that went viral.
“That’s part of life I guess. My mother raised me in such a way that I give full credit to her. When you are in a job where it is being judged by the public, you have to expect criticism. Some of them are unfair but everyone is entitled to their own opinion. I had to learn that early. At the end of the day, I am still smiling. They didn’t break me down. To any youngster, the advice that can be given is understand the road ahead of you.”
It is an incredible stat that West Indies have never won a Test match in Sri Lanka. In the 1980s when they were cricket’s strongest force, they never toured Sri Lanka. Their first trip was in 1993 for a one-off Test and since then the teams have played in Sri Lanka on 11 occasions with Sri Lanka winning seven and four Tests being drawn.
“Sri Lanka is tough especially at home. We have always struggled to compete. I remember Brian Lara scored almost 700 runs in that 2001 series and we still lost 3-0.
West Indies are currently in Colombo for a two-match Test series both Tests will be played in Galle. Can they reverse the trend this time? “They have the calibre of players. I expect a good series. Jason Holder is a top all-rounder and they will rely on him heavily. Interesting to see how Rostan Chase goes about things in Sri Lanka. To me, he is one of the better players of spin. In order to win cricket games in Sri Lanka, playing spin is crucial. So, Chase is the key man. Craig Brathwaite, the way he bats time is going to be a crucial factor too. Then there’s Shai Hope who has returned to the side. The fast bowlers we have are pretty good and it will be an interesting series.”
Sammy has been coming to Sri Lanka since 2003 and loves the country. “Sri Lankans are very friendly, warm-hearted and genuine people who make you feel at home. The first time I went there was in 2003 with MCC Young Cricketers. I remember going up to the hills and it was the first time I saw tea plants. I had never seen tea plants before. It was also the first time I saw elephants. Just travelling around the coastline was superb. It was like in my hometown in St. Lucia,” Sammy concluded.