Colombo, Sri Lanka – Darren Sammy and the men he will lead onto the field on Friday night will be carrying with them the hopes of all West Indians when they face Australia in the semi-final of the ICC World T20. The contest at the R Premadasa Stadium is expected to be a major showdown between two of cricket’s greatest arch-rivals.
Speaking on Thursday ahead a full training session, Sammy repeated the team mantra of “One Team, One People, One Goal” and called on everyone to stand up, be counted and bring their A-game.
“You could say we have not had the best tournament, but we are still here in the semi-final. It shows you the belief that the team has. Everyone is willing to go out there and do the best for the fans. The goal, the motto we left the Caribbean with is ‘One Team, One People, One Goal’. The mission is to win the World T20 tournament and we have taken it step by step. We saw it as a 100-metre hurdles and we have two more hurdles to jump to reach the finish line. Tomorrow is about jumping that hurdle. Once we jump it, we are in the final and it is just one more to go,” Sammy said.
“Yes, we have qualified for the semis and I don’t think we have brought our ‘A’ game on to the cricket field. Once we play to our full potential, once everybody clicks as a team, we will be a destructive force. We know that in the dressing room and we are quite confident we can go out and do that tomorrow.”
The Windies will seek to draw inspiration from the success of the Caribbean athletes at the Summer Olympic Games in London, in August where athletes from the region dominated on the track and in field events.
“The success of Caribbean athletes was something which was mentioned in our preparation for this tournament. I remember the coach (Ottis Gibson) giving a speech in one of the meetings before the World Cup about what happened this year in the Olympics with our Caribbean athletes. That has given the Caribbean people a lot of inspiration,” Sammy said.
“I remember being in Jamaica watching the men’s and women’s 100-metre and 200-metre finals. Even though it was Jamaica winning, it felt like the entire Caribbean. Cricket is a game that really unites the Caribbean people. Everybody at home is supporting us.
“After all those happenings in the Olympics, this is another step for us as a Caribbean team to put a smile on the faces of our fans. We play for the fans. We dedicate this tournament to all the die-hard fans who have been supporting us through thick and thin. It is a golden opportunity for us to go out there and win this World Cup for them.”
This is the second time the West Indies will face Australia in the tournament at the same venue under lights. In the first round the Windies made 191-8 off 20 overs. The Aussies replied with 100-1 off 9.1 overs and when rain came they were declared winners by 17 runs (Duckworth/Lewis Method).
“It’s hard work…that’s the reason for our success. Since the coach came on board, we have tried to instil a positive, can-do attitude in the set-up. We have a lot of belief now in ourselves – we believe we can go on to win matches and compete and perform and win against our opponents, that’s the biggest factor for us,” Sammy said.
“In any organisation, any team, any group, the more you work together, the more you achieve. Yes, there are guys who do more than others in the team, but I think every contribution from every player is important and that’s what we have been able to put together out in this tournament.
“So far, it’s going well for us. When people think we are down and out, somewhere, somehow, somebody has raised his hand and helped us over the line. It’s going to be the same attitude tomorrow and hopefully we can bring our ‘A’ game and come out victorious.”
Sammy also threw his support behind the West Indies women’s team, who play against Australia in the other semi-final on Friday at 2:30 pm. The winner of that match will face England in the final on Sunday.
“It’s rare that we find the men and women playing against the same team. I would want the girls to set the trend for us in winning their semi-final game and we could follow suit. I would like to wish Merissa Aguilleira and her team all the best in tomorrow’s semis and hopefully we both could be in Sunday’s final,” Sammy said.
SQUAD: Darren Sammy (captain), Dwayne Bravo (vice captain), Samuel Badree, Darren Bravo, Johnson Charles, Fidel Edwards, Chris Gayle, Kieron Pollard, Sunil Narine, Denesh Ramdin (wicket-keeper), Ravi Rampaul, Andre Russell, Marlon Samuels, Lendl Simmons, Dwayne Smith