Darren Sammy: “I only know one way to live”

Darren Sammy, captain of the West Indies cricket team and first St Lucian to play international cricket, on the importance of teamwork

  • Photograph courtesy the West Indies Cricket Board
  • Darren Sammy. Photograph courtesy the West Indies Cricket Board

People ask me why I am always smiling. I tell them it’s a way of lulling the opposition into a false sense of security. Because under that smile is a burning desire to win at anything I do — which, of course, extends to the cricket field. It’s the only way I know to live life — as a free spirit, you know, happy. My mom always said when you smile you remain younger. Plus I think I have nice teeth!

I was born at the Victoria Hospital in Vieux Fort in St Lucia, and raised in Micoud, in the community of Dugard. My parents raised me to be very content — I could always reach for the skies, but don’t envy what other people have. Being raised with a Christian background, good teachings, disciplines, and doctrines were instilled in me from a very young age. I was speaking to my wife Cathy, who is pregnant, and she was asking for a quote to put on the wall of the baby’s room. I said, “Train up a child in the way that he should grow, and when he is old he will not depart from it.” I give a lot of credit to my parents on how they raised me and my two siblings — they both worked very hard to send us to school, and I am now doing the same to raise my two boys, and of course our daughter, who is on the way.

As captain of the West Indies team, I recognise that I hold a most important job, and I’m accountable to so many fans across the region and elsewhere. Our 2012 winning ways gave me an amazing sense of satisfaction. I have been under pressure from the moment I started playing for the West Indies, seven years ago — being the lone St Lucian [on the team], and the first to play cricket for the West Indies. When you carry the weight of an entire region on your shoulders, it’s something you have to be willing to bear. In fact, it was probably the hardest decision I had to make, accepting the responsibility of captaincy. I would like to think that our string of successes on the world stage last year has made believers out of some of the doubting critics.

The movie Fire in Babylon motivates and inspires me, as does my family, who I cherish a lot and always want to do something special for. It’s been a long ride for me, ever since I was part of the winning ICC 2004 team under Brian Lara, one of my heroes. So I am extremely proud of being part of two world championship West Indies teams.

Whenever I travel, whenever I play for the Windward Islands or the West Indies, when I come back, walking through Immigration or Customs, they always remember. “Oh! I saw you took a great catch! You scored some runs! You played a good innings! You bowled really well!” So I always try to perform for the fans — not just for St Lucians, but for all our faithful fans.

I am not the most talented or stylish cricketer, but I am a hard worker. Ever since I know myself, I guess because of the way I was raised, my work ethic has always been strong. I used to take care of the [family] banana plantation — have to go to school and during the holidays I used to take care of the farm with my father. It’s been instilled in me from an early age. I transfer that kind of attitude towards my cricket. It might not work all the time, but I know I give everything on the cricket field.

My teammates and my coaches tell me what they admire — every day I come in and put in an honest day’s work. I have not let what is around me, especially the criticism, really deter me from our goal as a team, to get back to the top of the rankings. You know, that’s what I am most proud of: going through all of this and still being able to be the same person.

It is important for me to remain the person that I am, because I only know one way to live and one person to be: Darren Sammy. Always happy, even when people have disappointments and I get sad — but I don’t dwell on negativity for too long, and that’s one of my resolutions. Prepare for the next battle.

In order for a team to function properly, everybody has to be on the same page. Like I always tell the guys in the dressing room: you could have all the stars, but once you don’t play together, chances of winning will become slimmer. Especially during that [2012] Twenty 20 World Cup, we fought for each other. We believed in the next man. We believed that whoever was out there doing the job would get it done for us.

I know that’s what the fans want to see: the West Indies, playing and fighting hard to the end, doing our best. I always tell people: don’t let anybody tell you you can’t do this, you can’t do that.

What else can I say? I love to dance, privately mostly. I love my mom’s dumpling, chicken, and lentil peas. And my favorite form of relaxation is with a bowl of mangoes — any kind, I love mangoes!


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