Sammy knows his place but West Indies seek their full honours

 

To Darren Sammy has been entrusted the small matter of leading West Indies from the wilderness. He has been their captain for two years, leading them in 16 Tests of which they have won two, and today at Lord's he faces the sternest challenge of all.

At cricket's greatest ground, a man whose place has never seemed secure must inspire his team against the world's top side. Sammy intends to take inspiration from the place itself, where he was once on the groundstaff.

"Any cricketer would dream of being at Lord's," said Sammy. "I was with MCC Young Cricketers here, training and using the facilities every day. Coming to England really changed the direction of my career, working with the coach Clive Radley and the rest of the Young Cricketers. A few of them have gone on to play international cricket. So coming back here, it's a wonderful feeling and it will be leading out the West Indies team."

West Indies have won only four of the 19 Tests they have played against England at Lord's, the most recent in 1988 when they were masters of all they surveyed. Since then England have won four out of six. But this is where the tourists want to be.

"Not only for me, but all our boys especially Darren Bravo," he said. "He came here as a teenager for Trinidad and they told him he couldn't go on the grass and when everybody wasn't looking he stepped on, took some grass and put it in his pocket. He said he was going to plant it in his back yard and call it 'Lord's'. But by the time he got to the Caribbean all the grass was brown.

"It's going to be a very special occasion. There's been a lot of discussion in the dressing room about who's going to put their name on the honours board. There's a lot of inspiration that can be taken from Lord's, it's the spiritual place of cricket so hopefully magical things can happen for us."

The converse of that is the sheer intimidating nature of this glorious place, the walk through the Long Room, the weight of history out in the middle and the sheer quality of the opposition. But Sammy, the first Test player from St Lucia, has overseen definite signs of revival.

Sometimes short of the necessary class as change seam bowler and late middle-order batsman, he appears to have the trust of his team. In India and at home against India and Australia they have competed properly, while shorn of some of their most influential players – in which regard Chris Gayle, who Sammy succeeded as captain, is always to the fore. But doubts remain.

"I come across that every day [people saying he should be dropped]," he said. "People have an opinion but, hey, who doesn't? I fully understand my role in this team as a bowler and as a lower-order batsman."

He should be wished well.

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