At a time when people back home were raising a toast in his name for leading the West Indies to glory in the 2016 Twenty20 World Cup, Darren Sammy had little time to savour the crowning moment as he was busy leading his boys on another front. He was at the centre of a pay dispute with the West Indian cricket bosses that had got out of hand, to the extent that some of the country’s biggest cricket stars threatened to walk away from the game unless given a “fair deal”.
His feud with then Cricket West Indies boss Dave Cameron did not end well as he decided not to represent his country in the shortest format again and focus, instead, on franchise-based league cricket across the world.
However, after being away from top-level cricket, Sammy, now 36, is bidding a return to West Indies cricket and wants to be part of another glorious campaign in the next T20 World Cup, to be held in India, the country where the Islanders scripted history under his leadership.
Not ruling out the possibility of pulling on the maroon shirt again, Sammy, in a recent conversation with Cricbuzz, said, “I’ve had a lot of soul searching and reflection in the past few months. Anybody who’s been at home in the lockdown all these months would not have done justice to themselves if they didn’t glean over things. I’m actually just going into this tournament (Caribbean Premier League) to do better for myself and St. Lucia. That is the focus this year and if I do well at that it will raise a few eyebrows as well for other things.”
“I have not retired. I have not closed that door and if I take care of what I have to do for St. Lucia and get us to the play-offs along with my own very good performances, it will certainly make the selectors take notice,”the 36-year-old former West Indies skipper said.
As his cricketing records will bear testimony, the spell of acrimony with the West Indian cricket board doesn’t define his career but it certainly prevented him from adding a few more feathers to his Caribbean cap.
The overhaul in cricket administration back home has now filled him with fresh hopes of making a comeback to international cricket.
His good friend Dwayne Bravo, who was also a party to the campaign for ‘fair pay’, recently made himself available for national selection and was picked to represent his country in the shortest format again. Bravo’s return hinted at a subtle shift in the equation between the West Indian cricket bosses and the former T20 stars who turned rebels.
While big-hitting all-rounder Kieron Pollard was recently anointed as T20 captain on his return from a self-imposed sabbatical, explosive top-order batsman Lendl Simmons, who, too, fell out with the former custodians of Caribbean cricket over the pay dispute, was back in the mix as well.
It’s the return of his old mates that makes Darren Sammy believe that there’s still time to mend fences with the Board, get back to the domestic grind and work his way up the list of contenders for national selection and eventually win back his place in the shortest format. At 36, a comeback is very much in the realm of the possible.
Pollard, however, has made it clear that reputation would matter little when it comes to picking the team for T20 assignments.
He said while the doors are open for anyone who still had the hunger and desire to perform at the top level and wanted to put himself in contention for selection, performance and fitness will be the key yardsticks for a place in the national team.
Expect another ‘Champion’ dance in front of a packed house in India once the big names are back, firing on all cylinders.