Call it uneasy lies the head that once wore the crown, if you want. Ever since the build-up began for this World Cup, the non-Test sides have only been answering questions on whether they deserve to be in the tournament. But spare a thought for the mighty who have fallen.
West Indies kipper Darren Sammy’s media conference ahead of Friday’s opening clash against South Africa was devoted almost entirely to the plight his team find themselves in. Winners of the first two World Cups in 1975 and 1979, and the game’s finest exponents until Australia took over as the team to beat in the early 1990s, West Indies are now a pale shadow of their past. Their ODI ranking has dipped, and it’s been a long while since they defeated a Test team in a 50-over game.
Sammy referred to the fact that he was a rare St. Lucia cricketer to make it to the national squad and repeatedly spoke about the need to stay focused on the game at hand — against a team who hammered them 5-0 in the Caribbean last year — while trying to keep smiling. The media manager stood beside, anticipating the same question put in a different way, again and again.
That continued until a journalist asked what Sammy himself brought to the side, in other words why he is there in the first place. That is a question even the harassed Associate team skippers have been spared.
The question was camouflaged, as he was asked how the 27-year-old intended to display his leadership skills. Chris Gayle had promised that by taking up his role as spinner seriously.
Sammy gave a tired smile: “I will contribute with my lower order batting, with my economical bowling, and try to inspire the guys.”