Sammy into Test drive
DUNEDIN – West Indies’ captain Darren Sammy wants to use the three-Test series in New Zealand to re-establish himself as a Test cricket of note.
The embattled Sammy, who has bowled a mere 40 overs in his last three Tests while capturing a solitary wicket, has also conceded that he didn’t enjoy satisfactory personal returns in the two Tests in India.
“I didn’t have a good tour in India. I want to reassure myself as a Test captain and Test cricketer,” said Sammy, who has scored 1189 runs at an average of 21.23 and taken 77 wickets in 35 Tests at 35.66 apiece.
Sammy said the more laid-back environment provided by a tour of New Zealand could help the Caribbean side recover from the two lopsided innings Test defeats they suffered in India.
“It’s a new environment. India is cricket crazy and it was all about Sachin [Tendulkar] – the media [were] all crazy, but here the guys can relax with not so many cameras in their faces all the time and we can focus more on the game,” Sammy told ESPNcricinfo website after arriving in New Zealand yesterday.
West Indies could barely be facing more contrasting conditions: the heat and intensity of the subcontinent, dominated by Tendulkar’s farewell, have been replaced by the calm, green, temperate New Zealand.
After a 30-hour journey that took them from India via Dubai, Bangkok, Sydney and then a night in Christchurch, where they met up with the advance party of Test players who have been facing a New Zealand XI, the squad arrived in a breezy, showery Dunedin.
“One minute you are in India in the hot, sunny atmosphere and the next you are in Dunedin where the breeze can blow you off your feet,” Sammy said, reflecting on the life of the international cricketer.
He acknowledged that the change in conditions will be a tough test for his side – who are without the injured Chris Gayle at the top of the order.
“The quick turnaround from India, getting used to the conditions and adapting as quickly as possible will pose a challenge,” Sammy said. “India was a lesson for us, to show us where we are compared to the top teams in the world. Now we are playing a team where we are evenly matched. They will know conditions very well and for around three-quarters of our squad it’s their first time here.”
In fact, only two West Indians, Shivnarine Chanderpaul and vice-captain Denesh Ramdin have Test experience in New Zealand, and Ramdin averages 7.14 in his five matches.
The West Indies are still not at their full complement with Shane Shillingford and Marlon Samuels having travelled to Perth for tests on their bowling actions after being reported in India.
Ottis Gibson, the coach, is with the pair and while they were due to arrive in Dunedin over the weekend, Gayle’s replacement, Kraigg Brathwaite, is still in Barbados awaiting a visa.
Currently, Shillingford and Samuels remain available for the first Test although that could change if the outcome of the testing goes against them. (EZS)