Sammy faces uphill task as West Indies skipper

Antigua and Barbuda, February 4, 2011

Egos to the left of him, record-setters to the right: Darren Sammy, unheralded captain of the West Indies, faces mission impossible at the World Cup.

In a squad which features four former captains, three of whom can boast over 20,000 ODI runs between them, and a host of players who went on strike two years ago, Sammy has a disparate bunch to unite.

If he feels like an outsider, rubbing shoulders with ex-captains Chris Gayle, Shivnarine Chanderpaul, Ramnaresh Sarwan and Dwayne Bravo, then it’s hardly surprising.

He is the first international cricketer to emerge from St. Lucia, breaking the dominance of Jamaica, Trinidad, Guyana, Barbados and Antigua.

Appointed as skipper at the end of last year – despite having played just eight Tests – when Gayle refused to sign a central contract in a long-running dispute with the West Indies Cricket Board, Sammy was not the obvious choice.

However, the 27-year-old certainly arrived with a bang when he made his Test debut against England at Old Trafford in June 2007, his seven-wicket haul in the second innings giving his team a fighting chance in a losing cause.

“One guy called to say the last time he had felt this way was when St. Lucia got independence in 1979,” said Sammy after his memorable debut.

Sammy admits he’s a jack-of-all-trades cricketer, making the most of modest talents. “I have to do that little bit extra than somebody who’s more potentially capable won’t have to do. I have the term all-rounder because I bowl, I bat and I field, but in reality I’m not really one thing or the other. I have to work really hard on my batting, and I’m not an express fast bowler so I have to try to contain batsmen, and sometimes work them out to get wickets at the other end,” he said.

His career statistics bear out his own assessment. Eleven Tests have yielded just 29 wickets while, before the current series in Sri Lanka, his 43 ODIs, played over a seven-year period, brought him only 31 victims. With the bat in ODIs, he was averaging just over 24.

Gayle, who is closing in on 8,000 ODI runs, insists that he has thrown his full support behind the new captain ahead of the World Cup.

“He is the one who will have to take charge and lead from the front and we all know he is capable. We are all there to try and guide and help him,” said Gayle, who reminded West Indies of his importance with his 333 in the drawn Test series in Sri Lanka in November.