Sammy forced to defend his place in tourists' team


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The Independent Online

For a man whose position and status are being questioned daily, Darren Sammy was remarkably poised yesterday. West Indies have won only two of the 17 Test matches when he has been captain and that figure does not seem about to rise to three in the 18th.

It is not simply that his captaincy is doubted but that his place in the team seems so precarious. He is likely to be the third seamer in a four-man attack in the second Test against England, which starts today, leaving speed merchant Fidel Edwards kicking his heels. The latest man to join the debate was the great former fast bowler, Michael Holding, who questioned Sammy's place and the methods of the coach, Ottis Gibson.

Sammy seemed resigned to the question. "I think ever since I've been captain, people have been saying this," he said. "I try and do the best I can for West Indies. Everybody has an opinion and I respect that. I tend not to read the papers. [Holding] has his own views on West Indies cricket and so does everybody. Coach Gibson and myself are trying to build something for the future here. Everybody might not like it but the team has been responding in the last few series we've played. People are free to talk, it's a free country."

Together, Sammy and Gibson have tried to change the culture of the dressing room, which had become entrenched in the past few years. But they are aware that time may be running out for them. "He came on board with a whole new idea – determination, working hard for yourself and the team, fitness," said Sammy. "He wanted to play a brand of cricket where fans could see the determination and passion and see us competing against higher-ranked teams. So far we've been able to do that. He's made it known this West Indies team is a hard-working team."

But they need to win soon against plausible opponents and only the record of previous tourists is on their side this week. West Indies have never lost a first-class match in Nottingham, which includes eight Tests, although that record was rather debunked by Andrew Strauss who pointed out that England had not beaten Australia at Lord's since 1934 – until they did so in 2009.

West Indies will probably make two changes. Ravi Rampaul will replace Fidel Edwards and the off-spinner Shane Shillingford will come in for the injured fast bowler, Shannon Gabriel. No combination is likely to work.