Ahead of both his previous tours to India, Darren Sammy was hounded by the Indian press with questions related to Sachin Tendulkar. If he was pestered about how he would prevent Tendulkar from registering a 100th hundred in international cricket in 2011, the 2013 series was all about the great batsman’s farewell from international.
Cut to 2014, and Sammy was perhaps expecting questions about how he caught Tendulkar off Narsingh Deonarine in Mumbai last year to put a full stop to the batsman’s glorious career. Instead, even the ever-smiling Sammy seemed surprised by the number of queries related to his decision to retire from Tests in May, immediately after being replaced as the captain.
Soon after he quit Test cricket, Sammy had told ESPNcricinfo that he had given up the longest format since he believed it time for the West Indies Test team “to move in a new direction, under a new leader” and had also extended his support to the new captain Denesh Ramdin.
Still, the timing of his retirement, that too at the age of 30 when most cricketers are around their peak, led to questions over whether Sammy felt hard done by. “No regrets, I am just happy to still be playing one-day and T20s for West Indies and that is what I am focusing on,” Sammy said. “We are just finding means and ways to take West Indies cricket back to the top. No hard feelings. Hakuna Matata, no worries.”
Asked about the reduced pressure of having to lead West Indies only in Twenty20s and not in all three formats, the ubiquitous grin got wider. “Captaining any side is tough but captaining West Indies is even tougher. We have players from different islands, different backgrounds, different cultures in itself, it has always been tough.
“For me, that side of the things I don’t miss it but I continue to be a leader in the team and play my role how I am supposed to play it and now we have three different captains. Tests and one-day that pressure goes to Bravo [ODI captain Dwayne Bravo] and Ramdin. I just wait for when it is T20. But I try to be a leader in one-day and T20 cricket.”
Since being replaced as captain of the ODI side, Sammy has struggled to keep his place in the XI. He featured in only one of the three ODIs at home against Bangladesh in August. He had no qualms in attributing it to the fact that he is “not as talented as others”, but that has only made him more determined to improve.
“I am not as talented as the others. After playing for a while you get more exposure, more experience and you think better. Last year and a half or 18 months I have worked hard on my fitness which has helped me concentrate a bit better. Just taking the responsibility I guess. It has been good for the team so hopefully with the opportunities I get in the future, I can continue doing that for the team.”