Sammy readies for 'special' series
Jamaica Gleaner article.
MIAMI, Florida - Two slips, gully, deep point, cover, mid-off. West Indies pacer Ravi Rampaul stands at the top of his run-up.
It's November 2011 and India's master batsman, Sachin Tendulkar, goes through his pre-delivery ritual. He is six runs shy of his 100th international century, as the West Indies played the hosts at Tendulkar's home ground at Mumbai.
Rampaul puts a rising ball just wide of Tendulkar's off stump, willing a shot out of the iconic batsman; picking his edge and sending the ball cannoning straight into the arms of Darren Sammy at second slip. History delayed as the little master walks back to the pavilion on 94.
"We were probably the most hated people in India at that time," Sammy joked of himself and Rampaul.
The West Indies skipper, who is currently here with members of the regional unit in a first-of-its-kind team-bonding exercise - which started in Orlando on Sunday before moving south to Miami - is getting ready to lead his team into two Tests and three one-day internationals against the Indians, put together as a celebration of Tendulkar's 200th and final Test match.
It will also mark the 150th Test appearance by Windies cornerstone, Shivnarine Chanderpaul.
Sammy, while underlining that his team will not be in the mood for handouts or favours to Tendulkar and his team, can hardly wait to get started.
"I grew up watching both gentlemen and I remember as a little boy growing up, I remember telling myself that if I made the team by 18 (years), I may play with my childhood hero (Curtly) Ambrose; by 19 (years), Lara (Brian) and all these guys, I played with them. Lara captained me and Shiv (Chanderpaul) and has been the cornerstone of our batting and it's good to play with him. He going over that milestone of 150 Tests and it's special to be part of it and share that with him," Sammy noted.
"What these two gentlemen have done is amazing. Shiv has had 15 or so years of international cricket and Sachin has 24 years, and to do what they have done over the last two decades is testimony of their will-power. Both gentlemen are very humble and that's why I know when we go there the stands will be full, because he is a people's cricketer - they both are and I wish them all the best," added Sammy.
He also hopes to see the continued involvement of Chanderpaul.
"Sachin will move on and hopefully Shiv will continue playing with us, and hopefully he can help the younger Test batsmen. So it's a big celebration for us both ways and hopefully we can have the better part of the celebration," said the West Indies Test captain.
"I know Tendulkar has had fierce battles with the West Indies over the years, so hopefully we can make it a celebration of two great careers and hopefully we can have two exciting Test matches that will go down to the wire with the West Indies coming out on top," said Sammy.
The West Indies play India in the first Test at Kolkata from November 6-10 before moving to Mumbai for the second Test (November 14-18), which will mark Chanderpaul and Tendulkar's respective milestones.
Both teams will face each other in ODIs on November 21, 24 and 27.