Radford: Respect to smiling Sammy
Colombo, Sri Lanka - Assistant coach Toby Radford has paid tribute to Darren Sammy for leading a renaissance in West Indies cricket by guiding them to the World Twenty20 crown. Sammy, often maligned after taking the captaincy in 2010 as many questioned his place in the XI, helped the Windies overcome hosts Sri Lanka on Sunday.
The triumph was a high point for a team unified by their St Lucian skipper - and Radford could not hide his delight for the 28-year-old. The former Middlesex supremo, who helped set up the Sagicor High Performance Centre before getting the call to assist Ottis Gibson, said: “He (Sammy) has done a really good job on the field with the players.
“He speaks very well publicly and in the team meetings; he is a good man and I am really pleased for him because he has had his detractors. People have been critical of him but he has just sort of kept going and always worked with a smile on his face. I know the hard work he’s put in and what he’s put up with.
“His philosophy is interesting. He says ‘We are on this planet for a short time; if people do not like me then that is their problem’. Bad things do not bother him and I think it’s a good philosophy.
“He keeps a smile on his face and, in the end, you get where you want to go. I am really pleased for him and for everyone involved, Gibbo and everyone else.”
While Windies teams in recent times have all too often been overshadowed by fractions in the camp, Sammy and Gibson have combined to bring a harmony - the results of which are evident on the field.
“It’s important that the captain and coach work well together,” added Radford. “They have got to come up with the plans off the field that have to be delivered on it. “If those two have got different ideas, I do not think it would ever work. They are very close, they do work well together and I think Sammy has been exemplary as a leader. “The team we had (for the World Twenty20) is full of all-stars; there are a few millionaires in there who have been around the world and dominated.
“What he (Sammy) has done well is taking their advice and getting them together as a group, which is not easy - it’s a management skill. “Everyone thinks it’s their team. Rather than feeling like you’re being pulled down the road, you are having an input.”
The Sammy-Gibson axis has no doubt been important, yet West Indies have also been boosted by the return of superstar opener Chris Gayle. The 33-year-old ended a long exile from international cricket against England this summer, committing to representing the Windies in all forms. He was, predictably, one of the stars of the World Twenty20, with his performances leaving many - including Radford - in awe.
“It’s massive (to have him back),” said Radford. “I see opposition almost shudder when he turns up because his presence at the crease is dominant. “He is a huge force for us and his presence gives confidence to younger players as well. They learn from him; how can you not if you’re batting at the other end? “He’s a world-class player.
Nothing really seems to faze him and when he walks over that line, you get a top-class batter who is focussed 100 per cent.” Gayle often gets many of the plaudits, yet, though he has been excellent since returning for the Windies, Marlon Samuels has been the side’s outstanding player in the last few months. That was more evident than ever in Sunday’s showpiece finale, when he almost single-handedly took West Indies to victory with a 56-ball 78, including five sixes.
Radford added: “His (resurgence) came on the back of a time when he really struggled in March/April time against Australia.
“Since then, he has been phenomenal against England, New Zealand and in this ‘World Cup’. He is incredibly consistent at the moment.
“He works his way in and can then hit almost as hard as Chris; some of the shots against (Lasith) Malinga were wonderful. He won that game. Without that innings, I do not think we would have won that match.
“He’s similar to Chris off the field in terms of being calm, but once you get that focus, he is 100 per cent on the job and nine times out of 10 gets it done.”