'Humbled' Darren eager to lead St Lucia Zouks at 'Sammy's place'

Darren Sammy with the 2016 ICC World T20 trophy

Darren Sammy with the 2016 ICC World T20 trophy
©REUTERS / Action Images

Later this year, West Indies' two-time World Twenty20 winning captain Darren Sammy will take the unusual step of leading out the St Lucia Zouks at a stadium bearing his own name and while he is still getting used to the idea, he is already looking forward to it.

The Beausejour Stadium in St Lucia was renamed in Sammy’s honour after he led the side to victory in the recent ICC World T20 in India and the 32-year-old feels that the accolade will "take a while to sink in".

Sammy is thrilled that St Lucia will host four matches in this year's Caribbean Premier League (CPL), and says he is humbled by having the stadium named after him.

"The first thing my son said to me was ‘Daddy, you cannot let people come into your stadium and beat you. That shouldn’t happen,’" Sammy told Cricket World, jovially recollecting a conversation with his son.

"It is just a humbling experience for me. At 31-32 (years), to have a cricket ground being named after you, it is nothing I dreamt of," he continued.

"I need to really thank the government and the people of St Lucia for supporting me all these years and then showing their appreciation for what I have done.

"Sometimes I wake up and I always say, ‘ok, we have a couple of games in Beausejour’, then somebody has to correct me, ‘no, it is not The Beausejour, it is the Darren Sammy Stadium’.

"It will take a while to sink in but I am looking forward to the home games in the Caribbean Premier League.

"I wish that the people come down to 'Sammy’s place' and enjoy exciting cricket."

Sammy is encouraging the fans to turn out at the newly named Darren Sammy International Cricket Stadium

Sammy is encouraging the fans to turn out at the newly named Darren Sammy International Cricket Stadium
©REUTERS / Action Images

Maintaining that the CPL is the biggest party in sport, Sammy reasoned that there is no better place than the Caribbean Islands to witness the festive celebration of the game.

"That is right, it (the Caribbean Premier League) is the biggest party in sport, it has really grown (in stature).

"You have the Caribbean players who entertain all over the world – you have all of them at once.

"Cricket in the Caribbean, you won’t experience that anywhere else in the world.

"India has its different flair, but when it comes to the celebration and the party atmosphere at the cricket ground, you will only find that where West Indians are present.

"That’s what you see in the Caribbean. The cricket is exciting, the fun, the dancers, the music, the DJ and the Islands.

"Don’t forget the Islands, because who wouldn’t want to come to the Caribbean.

"The people are friendly, the atmosphere is buzzing, the food is great; so it is a total package, not just the cricket, the ambience of the place is just amazing."

After winning the 2016 World T20, Sammy became the first captain in the world to lead his team to a second title in the showpiece event of the shorter format.

Sammy termed the victory as a "massive achievement" and is pleased that the fans of West Indies cricket are happy.

"It is a massive achievement. I don’t look out for me as captain, but as a team, especially (with) the difficulties we faced before the tournament and during the tournament.

"To see the guys come out victorious, not only the men but also the women and the under-19 boys earlier that year, it is a massive achievement.

"There is still a buzz everywhere we go. (Among) the West Indies fans there is still a buzz from that victory, which is always a good thing when the West Indian fans are happy."

The World T20 final in itself was a thrilling match, with the game seemingly swinging in England's favour, only for Carlos Brathwaite to snatch it back in the very last over.

Carlos Brathwaite helped West Indies win the ICC WT20

Carlos Brathwaite helped West Indies win the ICC WT20
©REUTERS / Action Images

Brathwaite smashed four consecutive sixes in the final over to secure a dramatic win and Sammy said that recollecting the events of that night gave him a "sense of pride".

"To say I wasn’t nervous; I would be lying but I had this premise that we could do it.

"We just kept saying the first ball needs to go for a six.

"He (Carlos Brathwaite) hits it (the second ball) for a six and you could see more guys join in and the next one goes for a six and we were like ‘yes, definitely we are not losing that’.

"You could see the celebrations; it was crazy; it was amazing.

"Every time I go back to that night in Eden Gardens, it always gives a smile and a sense of pride."

T20 cricket remains by far the best suit of the current West Indies team as it is the only format where they are ranked among the top three in the ICC rankings.

According to Sammy, the style and flair with which West Indies have been playing the game throughout their history means their success isn't a a huge surprise.

To drive home his point, Sammy cited the example of past legends like Sir Garfield Sobers and Sir Viv Richards and how they used to go about playing their game at a far better strike rate than the rest of the players in that era.

"If you go back to Sir Gary (Garfield Sobers), Lawrence Rowe and all these guys, they were playing T20s back then," Sammy argued.

"Back in the day when everybody was striking at 50 or 60, Sir Viv was striking at 90 something.

"So, West Indies have been playing T20 for a long time now.

"That is the style and now we have the format that really suits us."

However, Sammy was also quick to acknowledge that the amount of T20 experience in the dressing room is a big contributor to the success of the team in the format.

Sammy leads an experienced West Indies T20 squad

Sammy leads an experienced West Indies T20 squad
©REUTERS / Action Images

"To be fair, our guys are well experienced. You are looking at Kieron Pollard, who has played the most T20 games in the world.

"Dwayne Bravo, Chris Gayle, myself, (Andre) Russell and (Samuel) Badree, you could say these are seasoned T20 players.

"(There is) real experience in the dressing room that makes my job (as captain) very easy."

Sammy’s record as West Indies T20 captain stands at 36 wins from 47 games between 2011 and 2016 along with the unique distinction of two World T20 wins.

Asked what makes a good captain, Sammy said that it is imperative for the leader of the side to instill team spirit among the players and make them feel like they are part of the decisions being taken on the field.

"For me, a captain is someone who always makes everyone feel as a part of the success of the team, to bring out the best in your players on the cricket field and just feel like a team.

"At the end of the day, there is a captain out there who makes the decisions.

"But in making the decisions, everybody (should) feel like they are a part of it."

In the upcoming season of the CPL, Sammy will lead the St Lucia Zouks, a team consisting of experienced overseas stars like Michael Hussey, Shane Watson and Morne Morkel.

Sammy highlighted the quality and skills of the local players in the side, and is confident that the youngsters in the team can learn a lot from the vast experience of the likes of Hussey, Watson and Morkel.

"I think we have the best side," he said.

"The local talent, Andre Fletcher, Johnson Charles, Kyle Mayers, Keddy Lesporis, Keron Cottoy and the Under-19 guy, Gidron Pope.

"You’ve got Mr Cricket (Michael Hussey) in the dressing room.

"(You can imagine) how much the batsmen can learn.

"Shane Watson just had a good season with Royal Challengers Bangalore.

"It is just good to have this experience.

"Morne Morkel, to pass on his experience together with Fidel Edwards onto the young fast bowlers.

"It is a good mix (of youth and experience).

"As a youngster, if you are looking to learn, there is no better atmosphere than having Mr Cricket and all this experience in the dressing room."

St Lucia Zouks begin their 2016 CPL campaign with a clash against St Kitts and Nevis Patriots at Warner Park in Basseterre on 3rd July.

Their first match at the Darren Sammy National Cricket Stadium on 21st July is the reverse fixture.

Interview arranged by the Saint Lucia Tourist Board. For more information visit www.saintluciauk.org

© Cricket World 2016