Smiling skipper Sammy a true champion for Windies


When West Indies claimed a first World Twenty20 crown in October 2012, captain Darren Sammy and his joyous team-mates celebrated with some 'Gangnam Style' dancing on the outfield at Colombo's R Premadasa Stadium.

Three and a half years on in Kolkata, all-rounder Dwayne Bravo's very own 'Champion' song - with lyrics referencing Windies stars of the past and present - provided the soundtrack for another Caribbean party.

And the title of Bravo's catchy tune would appear a particularly fitting term for Sammy - a hugely popular figure who is once again able to bask in the glory of leading his team to victory in a global tournament.

In terms of runs and wickets, Sammy's contribution to West Indies' latest success was minimal. He bowled only three overs in the competition - his solitary set of six in the final costing 14 runs - and faced 13 deliveries across three innings for a mere eight runs.

Nevertheless, Sammy certainly made his mark as a leader, fostering a sense of unity among his players amid collective frustration over a perceived lack of recognition in the media and the latest in a series of disputes with the West Indies Cricket Board (WICB).

The affable St Lucian was also able to bring the best out of strong personalities such as Chris Gayle, a centurion in the Windies' opening Super 10 win over England, and Marlon Samuels - the man of the match in the final just as he had been against Sri Lanka in 2012.

"All the guys chipped in and for me as a leader it was just a joy to captain those guys out there," said Sammy, whose 100 per cent record in tosses also proved significant.

"Our team has a lot of stars so for me it is just [my task] to handle all the egos in the dressing room and make the right decisions for the team."

Breaking into his familiar beaming smile, Sammy added: "People will probably say that I didn't take part in the tournament! But my job is to do what is necessary for the team to win, make the right decisions out there together with the input from the senior players."

West Indies have endured a miserable time of things in Test cricket in recent years, a far cry from their period of awe-inspiring dominance under Clive Lloyd and Viv Richards in the 1980s.

Sammy, who retired from Tests after being deemed surplus to requirements as he was sacked as five-day captain in 2014, acknowledged there is much work for the Windies to do in the longest form.

However, his pride was clear as he stated: "What I could tell you about this T20 team is it's bringing smiles across the faces of all the Caribbean fans, and even here in India you saw the crowd was behind us.

"We as a T20 outfit, we entertain. I don't know about the glory days when we dominated Test cricket for 17 years, that is an area in which we really have to improve, but the success of this T20 team cannot be unnoticed and we bring smiles to the fans."

Asked if he was at peace with himself following the contractual row with the WICB that overshadowed his team's tournament preparations, a grinning Sammy replied: "I'm always at peace with myself, always. Don't you see this smile all the time?

"There are issues that have to be dealt with. The main focus was to play this tournament and play to win and then talk after. Now we've won, then we could talk."

Sammy concluded his news conference by saying: "When you see those 15 men out there play with passion, determination and hunger for success and victories, it all stems from what has been boiling inside. This victory is solely dedicated to the Caribbean people, the fans all over the world."

It was the response of a champion in every sense.