iconimg Tuesday, August 04, 2015

Amol Karhadkar, Hindustan Times
Ahmedabad, December 05, 2011
West Indies cricket has been attracting more negative publicity, be it the players’ revolt against the board over payments or former skipper Chris Gayle’s prolonged exclusion from the squad.

The Caribbean side’s mediocre performances on the field would also suggest that West Indies cricket is indeed in a state of turmoil. To top it all, many feel having Darren Sammy as captain is akin to the proverbial last straw that broke the camel's back.

The utility player has hardly been able to contribute with bat or ball. While he has produced a few impressive spells in Test matches with his medium-pace, he has rarely done that in the shorter format of the game. As a result, time and again his place in the team has been questioned by one and all.

But on Monday, he smashed an unbeaten 17-ball 41 runs that would silence his critics for a while. More importantly, his late charge helped West Indies gain the upper hand. The manner in which Sammy took on Abhimanyu Mithun was a treat to watch. If his successive boundaries early on in the over disrupted Mithun’s rhythm, and destroyed his confidence.

Despite being a soft target for pundits and fans alike, Sammy has earned the respect of his team. “He has done well in Tests and is struggling in this format, but he is somebody who will spring a performance for us. He knew before he got the job how difficult it was. He is backed in the dressing room, and he needs to back himself and his ability,” coach Ottis Gibson said on the eve of the third ODI.

“I have said to him in the past, he goes out to bat as a captain and he should be a little selfish as a batsman and get a score for himself. Once he does that the team will ultimately benefit.”

Perhaps Monday’s knock was “team man” Sammy’s way to not only get his act together with the bat but also help West Indies wriggle out of a hole.