West Indies cricket captain Darren Sammy is an optimist. You can tell by the way he speaks. In charge of an extremely volatile team plagued by internal issues, reports of the WICB not supporting cricketers enough and talent-drain due to more higher paying cricket leagues, the man comes across as calm and confident.
The team is missing some key players, hasn’t had much success off late and has hardly had any practice or preparation for their series against England that begins today. Yet, according to the ESPNCricinfo website, Sammy believes that his team is “progressing.” And you have to hand it to the man. He isn’t just making a statement for the heck of it. He isn’t just saying things that you are meant to say in the media. This is a man that truly believes that his side has the potential to grow and that they are on their way up the ladder.
Let’s face it, owing to the recent successes of West Indian players competing in the IPL, the current side seems lackluster and with no sheen. The WICB hasn’t been able to settle daunting issues such as paying their players as well as other T20 leagues do, or gain the confidence of players like Chris Gayle and Jerome Taylor. Recently even the experienced Shivnarine Chanderpaul had made some comments against the WICB that didn’t go down well with members of the board. Sammy though, seems undeterred. He believes that despite the fact that the stats don’t show it, his team had pushed India in the Delhi test (but were eventually scuttled by R Ashwin) and almost upset Australia in the Bridgetown test, “The only thing that has not been happening is the victories.” Speaking at the launch expansion of Sport for Life, a cricket-based community education program, Sammy further said, “We’ve been playing good, competitive cricket against strong sides like India and Australia and all our Tests have been going five days and down to the wire. Not many teams go to India and give India a run for their money, but we did that.”
Not expecting immediate results, Sammy expressed confidence that his side was taking baby steps and have the bigger goal in mind. He also was scathing when he said that his side often lost the plot at key moments. “One bad session keeps costing us. Champion teams seize the moment but we keep having a bad session where we might lose five wickets in an hour. We just need to cut that out. Once we eliminate those bad sessions then we'll make progress,” he explained.
While nobody seems to be expecting any major upsets during the West Indies tour of England, Sammy pointed out that the last time both the teams met, it was the Caribbeans who won it. He said, “People don't expect much from us, but we know that once we play to our potential we can compete very hard against England. If we can put runs on the board, we back our bowlers to take 20 wickets against England.” Sammy also commented on the English media, who according to him, “try and bring them (the visiting team) down for England.” Adding that distractions will always present themselves and you just have to handle them, he said, “We have to handle the distractions - be they the weather or the press - and concentrate on doing our best on the pitch.”