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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 wish that the people come down to ‘Sammy’s place’ and enjoy exciting cricket.”
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.
“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.
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.”