ST JOHN’S, Antigua, CMC – Newly-appointed West Indies white-ball head coach Daren Sammy said he was under no illusions about the enormity of the task ahead of him in the role and being a former captain of the team during a turbulent period may be a blessing.
The former West Indies captain, 39, is preparing for his first tours of duty with the One-day International squad under the leadership of Barbadian wicketkeeper-batsman Shai Hope – a series of three ODIs against the United Arab Emirates next month in Sharjah and the critical World Cup qualification tournament that follows in Zimbabwe.
With his limited coaching background on the international stage and the lack of top certification, Sammy’s credentials appear not to make him the ideal man for the job. Still, he said there were similar sentiments when he was appointed West Indies captain almost 15 years ago, and the results can now speak for themselves.
“I approach this role the same way as I did in 2010 when I took on the captaincy role,” he said during a virtual news conference on Friday, his first since being appointed.
“The first thing I did was to get down on my knees and start praying for divine intervention – the wisdom needed for this role, the patience needed, and the vision to achieve the things that will make the fans and those who follow us proud.”
He said: “I understand the challenges that come with this role, but in doing so, it’s not something that scares me. I am pretty excited about the challenges because of what I see we have and my understanding of the task. I think that’s the most important thing for me, and it’s not just about playing cricket; it’s just how I live.
“Once I understand what the job requires, then I could now focus on the things that I have to do and block out the noise because I’ve had to do that throughout my playing career – block out the noise – but, yes, I see a similar pattern, and it’s something for which I think I’m even more prepared.”
Sammy comes into the role after playing for West Indies in 38 Tests, 126 ODIs, and 68 Twenty20 Internationals between 2004 and 2017.
He captained the Caribbean side in 30 Tests, 51 ODIs, and 47 T20Is, including two T20 World Cup-winning teams in 2012 and 2016, and he has coached in the Caribbean Premier League and Pakistan Super League since packing it in.
Sammy said he wanted to avoid coaching, so he never pursued formal qualifications at the highest level. However, he said opportunities fell to him because of his success during his playing career as a leader of men.
The St Lucia-born former West Indies all-rounder disclosed he already had a Level 2 coaching certification, which he completed when he was a part of the MCC Young Cricketers in England before his international career took root. He has started the work to obtain different credentials.
He said what knowledge he may not have through formal coaching certification he had obtained through practical playing experience, and he was now looking to shape the Caribbean side into a formidable fighting force.
“It was not something I aspired to do during my playing days… but I’m a work-in-progress,” he said. “I will not sit down here and tell you all is OK. I am aware of those things (being said), and I understand the challenges ahead of me.
“But I also believe that the impact and effect that I could have with this generation right now, I will not let because I don’t have a certificate stop me from taking on the challenges that I know I am equipped to handle.”
While preparing for the forthcoming tours, Sammy said he had already had discussions with Hope and was trying to get a sense of what they hoped to achieve over the next few months.
“We have spoken about the basic stuff about the identity of our game, what identity we want to give to our cricket,” he said.
“Hearing from him, having taken over, and him being probably the leading batter for our group now as captain, what is his experience in the dressing room, some of the things where we could improve? It’s been about him being in the system and learning how he thinks.”