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For the fans

Haydn Gill

For the fans

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THE DEVASTATION Hurricane Tomas has caused across the Caribbean could serve as inspiration for West Indies cricketers in the same way that Hurricane Ivan motivated the regional team to lifting the ICC Champions Trophy six years ago.New captain Darren Sammy, whose native St Lucia has borne the brunt of Tomas’ destruction, yesterday offered best wishes to Caribbean people who had been affected by the hurricane that claimed at least a dozen lives in his homeland.Sammy was a raw 20-year-old when West Indies, against the expectations of many, claimed their first global prize in 25 years by winning the ICC World Champions Trophy in 2004, a mere weeks after Ivan left a similar wake of destruction in Grenada.On returning to the Caribbean, Sammy was given the pleasure of being the first player emerging from the British Airways flight with the trophy in hand. Prior to the tournament, the then captain Brian Lara said the regional team would try to win the tournament to ease the suffering of Grenadians.“We came as a group and solely dedicated it to the people of Grenada. It was the last major tournament we won. We could mention it to the guys. I know all the cricketers are passionate about the fans. We will give consideration to that,” said Sammy during a lunch break at a training session at the 3Ws Oval.“We will be going out there, not only playing for the St Lucians or the Bajans or the Vincentians who were affected by the storm, but the whole Caribbean people.“Cricket is more than just a game to us in the region. It is like a culture for us. It is important that we go out there and play well and show that we have the fans in mind.”Sammy also offered sympathy to the family of the late Prime Minister David Thompson, who died last week Saturday.“I’d like the give my best wishes to all the people in St Lucia and Barbados – and also condolences to the family of the Prime Minister,” he said.“It’s a trying time for us in the Caribbean, especially for the people in Barbados. My family is okay but I just want to wish all St Lucians who lost their houses best wishes and hope they recover soon.”The West Indies players assembled in Barbados a few days ago for a preparatory camp ahead of the upcoming tour of Sri Lanka.The passage of Tomas curtailed some of the activity, but after an indoor session on Sunday, they had lengthy fielding drills outdoors yesterday.It is Sammy’s first assignment as team captain after the West Indies Cricket Board overlooked previous captain Chris Gayle and his former deputy Dwayne Bravo for the job weeks after the pair turned down one-year central retainer contracts.Gayle and Bravo have been actively participating in the camp and Sammy expects full support from the duo.“The relationship I’ve had with all the players since I started my international career – Chris was the one who moulded me into the team and  Bravo and I go way back from Under-19,” Sammy said.“Chris has publicly voiced his support towards the team and me. I have full confidence that he will do just that.“We all are committed to bringing West Indies from where we are now to higher rankings on the world stage. I know the guys will be looking to that and looking to put their best foot forward.”After further training today and tomorrow, the 15-man squad will head for Sri Lanka for the tour that comprises three Tests, five One-Day Internationals and one Twenty20 International.In spite of unimpressive results this year and two disappointing tours of Sri Lanka in the past seven years, Sammy is optimistic of turning things around.“I have a good feeling that everything is going to be okay. We all know that Sri Lanka is a very tough tour.  As long as we play together as a unit and we go out there and execute our plans properly, we should have good results,” he said.“It’s a new team coming forward. We will have energy out there. The selectors are building towards the future. All in all, I am quite happy so far.”