Sammy: I want us to remember that feeling
The following transcript is an interview from Indian Express' Bharat Sundaresan with West Indies captain, Darren Sammy.
How was it coming home to your beloved St Lucia as a World Cup winning captain?
My most memorable moment! There was a buzz in the air from the time we stuck our heads out from the British Airways flight. The entire nation seemed to be out there. The Prime Minister was there along with all other government ministers. Johnson (Charles) and I were overwhelmed by the love of the St Lucian people. We felt the love from the Sri Lankans too, and from the entire Caribbean on return. But only when we touched down in St Lucia did the enormity sink in.
Just how much, if at all, has this World Cup lifted the morale of West Indian cricket?
This World Cup means a lot to the entire Caribbean, especially after everything the team has gone through over the last decade. The fans have been craving for a major success. One Team, One People, One Goal was our motto. We have developed this amazing never-say-die attitude over the last two years. We got past the group stage without a single victory and then had to go through a tense Super Over against New Zealand. Then we brought our A-game to the table against Australia. At one stage in the final, we were down and out but our fightback with Marlon (Samuels) & Co was just phenomenal. It showed how much we have matured. We no longer wanted to compete against the best in the world. We wanted to beat them. To answer your question, the world loves to see the West Indies win. We are still just taking baby steps towards regaining our past glory. No team brings the kind of flair that we do.
Despite that all-pervasive smile, there must have been some days where you must have felt frustrated?
Definitely. We are all human beings after all. We all share the same kind of emotions and feelings. Captaining the West Indies is among the most challenging jobs in world cricket. And there were days when it just didn’t feel nice to hear so many things being said about you despite the fact that you’re giving your all. At one point, I did feel awful about it. The things being said were getting to me. But my faith in Christ and the support of my wife helped me cope with it.
You have always credited coach Ottis Gibson as having played an integral role in your career.
I was actually thinking of quitting cricket altogether before Ottis came along in early 2010. He came in and instilled an entirely new attitude to the way we trained. A different work ethic provided a new vision to my career. It was just after the series against South Africa, where we lost 2-0 in the Tests and 5-0 in the ODIs. I was no longer enjoying the game personally. But Ottis and I formed a great relationship. Ottis has always been someone who tells you how it is. What he wanted to do with this team was exactly what I wanted to hear. With him around for support, accepting the challenge of captaincy wasn’t that difficult either.
How close was it to leaving cricket?
I had a long chat with my wife and dad and both were of the same opinion that I should quit if I wasn’t feeling the same way about it. To possibly stay home with my two boys and return to my preaching role. My disillusionment actually began back in 2009. I had a poor series and was dropped from the team. That series was followed by the one against Bangladesh where the entire team decided to strike. There was a tough decision to be made here though for me. Should I try and resurrect my international career which had just hit a roadblock or should I participate in a strike whose purpose I wasn’t quite sure of? I bit the bullet despite being aware of the repercussions. I was desperate to revive my career. That series actually changed everything for me even though we didn’t win. I ended up with two five-wicket hauls. I have been part of the West Indies team across all three formats since then.
Being part of that series has always been held against you and your detractors have often called you the WICB’s puppet as a result.
I have been called many names, even traitor. I am not bothered by what people have to say though. You need to go with what you believe in. And that’s what I did. I have always loved who I am, and understood who I was from a young age. I was considered the most jovial person in the village I grew in. Nobody, even those close to me, would ever know what kind of mood I was in because I always remained cheerful. Even now, only my wife is allowed to see my true emotions at the end of the day when I return home.
Did it strain relations with your senior teammates once they returned to the fold? Did they respect you?
It’s been a long, rocky road since I became captain. But it was great to have Chris (Gayle) and the other guys come back into the team. My prerogative ever since I took over as captain has been simple: look like a family when you’re on the field. We need to be enjoying the game and each other’s company and success.
With star names like Gayle, Bravo and Pollard around, have you personally felt a little overwhelmed, considering you are the captain?
Over time we have learned to mutually respect each other. You’re right, the team is choc-a-bloc with some amazing talent. I don’t think I can teach Chris or the senior players about batting. They know exactly what you have to do to be successful at this level. For me the most important thing as skipper, especially during the World T20, was making sure that they feel like an integral part of the side. I’ve tried to incorporate their inputs in my decision-making as much as I can.