Darren Sammy will lead the West Indies during the upcoming tour of Australia. After making his debut for the national side in 2004, the 29 year old has become one of their most vital players on the field. His all-round game has single-handedly won matches for the West Indies, while his leadership skills have provided calmness to a cricketing nation that has often been rocked by instability at the top.
His ODI debut against New Zealand in 2004 amounted to very little, after the umpires abandoned the match barely minutes after the toss. He did eventually get a taste of international cricket later that year, picking up a wicket in a comfortable win over Bangladesh. The West Indies went on to win the Champions Trophy, although Sammy played no further part in the tournament.
It wasn’t until 2007 that Sammy made his Test debut. After missing the first two matches of the series against England, the all-rounder was given his opportunity in Manchester. It was a match to remember for Sammy, whose second innings performance saw the hosts collapse from 4/265, to be bowled out for just 313. Sammy was the chief destroyer, snaring figures of 7/66, including three wickets in one over.
The stirring debut should have kick-started his career then and there, but Sammy was left in the wilderness for the next two years. It took a bitter pay dispute between players and the Board for selectors to give the incumbent all-rounder another chance. In an inexperienced team, Sammy shone for the West Indies, taking 12 wickets in his side’s 2-0 home loss to Bangladesh.
His form in limited overs cricket continued to impress, with Sammy playing a starring role against Zimbabwe. A career best 5/26 in the one off T20 was followed up by eight wickets in the ODI series at a paltry average of just 12.5. Although his bowling has generally earned him the most praise, Sammy’s batting can be equally, if not more damaging when he is on song. A West Indian record 20 ball half-century against South Africa caught the eye of many fans across the world, with Sammy smashing the world class attack to every part of the aptly named Sir Vivian Richards Stadium.
After Chris Gayle and Dwayne Bravo refused to sign central contracts with the West Indian Board, Darren Sammy was named captain of the Test side, despite only having played eight matches. His first series in charge saw all three matches washed out. During Pakistan’s’ tour in 2011, Sammy led his country to their first Test win in two years.
Australia’s tour of the Caribbean in 2012 was a successful one for Sammy and the West Indies. The team drew the one-day series 2-2, with Sammy blasting 84 off 50 balls in the final match. His great form with the bat transferred to the Test arena, where Sammy hit 106 against England to record his maiden Test ton.
The 2012 World T20 tournament in Sri Lanka capped off a meteoric rise in West Indian cricket. After knocking off Australia in the semi-finals, Sammy’s side were underdogs against the hosts. However, an inspired performance from the captain saw his side win the title by 36 runs. Sammy finished the match with 26* from 15 balls, and an equally valuable 2/6 with the ball. It was a win that highlighted the nation’s potential to compete on the biggest stage, and it finally earned Sammy the respect that he had so longingly deserved.