Defiant Sammy laments West Indies 'mess'

Put me on that podium again and I will do it even better, says former captain

Afp October 27, 2016

LONDON: Former captain Darren Sammy said on Thursday the West Indies were in a "mess" but insisted he had no regrets over a passionate speech that effectively ended his international career, adding he would "do it even better" if given another chance.

The 32-year-old St Lucia all-rounder has not played for the West Indies since captaining the team to a dramatic last-over victory against England in the World T20 final in Kolkata in April.

Afterwards, an emotional Sammy used the presentation ceremony to say how his side felt "disrespected" by the West Indies Cricket Board's (WICB) lack of support, with a pay dispute having previously threatened the team's participation in India.

"Put me on that podium again and I will do it even better," said Sammy. "I believe a man has to speak his heart. It was just an extension of what my team went through flowing from me."

Sammy was speaking just two days after the West Indies suffered a crushing 133-run second Test defeat by Pakistan in the United Arab Emirates. That left them 2-0 down in the three-match series and was their 19th loss in 29 Tests.

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On the eve of the tour, the WICB -- led by controversial president Whycliffe 'Dave' Cameron -- sacked winning World T20 coach Phil Simmons, a former West Indies batsman.

"It's disappointing but not surprising," said Sammy, also the West Indies' captain when they won the 2012 World T20. "It's been a trend of how my former employers operate.”

He added: "It was sad. They will say it did not have an effect on the team but, from the pictures being posted on social media, I could tell my team was not in a happy mood."

Sammy, the first cricketer from the island of St Lucia to represent the West Indies, insisted he was "at peace" with his own situation.

"Everything in life happens for a reason," he said.

"I am still on a high. I refuse to let people dictate my mood...It is disappointing to win a World T20 and you've not played international cricket after that. To remove the winning World Cup coach (as well), it's just a mess.

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"I am not about fighting it anymore. I'm just focused on wherever my services are needed. Right now that's franchise cricket...I'm not retired, I am still available for (West Indies) selection."

He added: "I just hope and pray that our youngsters are not burdened by the decisions taken at the top. We have two young captains in Jason Holder and Carlos Brathwaite. They must be under some serious pressure. I have been through it and it's not an easy job."

Following the West Indies' latest World T20 triumph, St Lucia's main cricket stadium was re-named in Sammy's honour, making him one of the few active cricketers ever to have played in a ground with his name on it.

Sammy said the decision by the St Lucia prime minister had been "mind-blowing".

"My son whispered to me afterwards, 'Dad, you know now you can't lose in your own stadium?', so the pressure is always on!," he explained with a grin.

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"It's something that will always seem unreal for me. It shows the level of support and appreciation St Lucia has for me in what I have done to put the country on the map and I am forever thankful to St Lucia for that."

Sammy was speaking after a London news conference where it was announced that India-born businessman Jay Pandya of the Philadelphia-based Royal Sports Club, had become the new owner of the St Lucia Zouks Hero Caribbean Premier League (CPL) franchise.

"Today was a great day for St Lucia Zouks and I am looking to exciting times ahead," said Sammy, who this year captained the Zouks to their best CPL finish as they reached the play-offs, while the tournament broke new ground by staging six matches in Lauderhill, Florida. "I met Pandya for the first time and I could just feel the positive energy he brings."

Pandya, explaining his decision to invest in the Zouks, the last of the six CPL team to go into private hands, said: "We felt it was a great addition to our sports portfolio."

Praising the CPL's "fantastic growth", with a television audience now estimated at 120 million, he added: "It has energised crowds to come and watch matches live at stadiums across the Caribbean and the United States with the party-like atmosphere."


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