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Captain Sammy, a poor general

india Updated: Jun 25, 2011 23:29 IST
N Ananthanarayanan

As West Indies skipper Darren Sammy walked back after a cameo with his team sliding towards defeat, an elderly fan walked close to the steps leading to the dressing room and gave him a piece of his mind. The fan continued to angrily wag his finger at the dressing room as another familiar batting collapse was reaching its logical conclusion on the fourth day of the first Test.

Captaining West Indies has been a challenge at the best of times because of the need to foster unity among talented but disparate individuals from different islands. West Indies have had a tradition of strong captains. The late Frank Worrell, who led in the early 60s, was a tremendous leader and is still revered. Clive Lloyd was a fearsome batsman and leader, who revived the side after the battering by Aussie fast bowlers on the 1975 tour. He built a world-conquering team based on the bowling firepower and WI dominated for two decades.

A forced choice
Sammy's choice was forced last year after Gayle refused to sign a board contract and other seniors refused the job. But he has since showed little individuality or authority, given or acquired, as captain or player. He doesn't seem to have the toughness captains sometimes need to spark life into the team. Neither has he done something different to arrest the slide.

Asked whether he ever lost cool in the dressing room when batsmen failed, he said: "Each player knows his responsibility". Without express pace, he has accepted his role as a stock bowler, keeping it tight and taking useful wickets but concerns about batting continue to grow.

During the first Test, coach Ottis Gibson was annoyed when asked whether Sammy was under pressure, after third pacer Kemar Roach was left out. "People keep asking about Sammy and he keeps taking wickets," Gibson said.

The absence of Gayle and Marlon Samuels, who was not picked for the first Test, has only made him more unpopular. Sammy confessed he had little say even in choosing the final eleven. "I have a say but Dessie (Desmond Haynes) as batting coach and the coach (Gibson) have a say as well. They (the selectors) come up with the best possible solution. Because results are not going our way, questions are being asked."