The unheralded Test career of former West Indian captain Darren Sammy in the five-day format came to an end after he announced his retirement following his sacking as skipper. Sammy did not have a highly successful Test career either as captain for leader, which is why he has had to retire so early in his 30s. Having said that, West Indies cricket should be thankful to him, as he took over the reins of the side when there was a massive turmoil in Windies cricket, with many senior players revolting. Sammy may not have turned West Indies’ Test fortunes around, but he at least ensured it did not plunge further down in darkness. With him quitting, we look back at the few of his finest moments in the format.
7/66 against England, Manchester, June 2007: Sammy made a sensational Test debut for West Indies in the third of Test of the four-Test series in England in June 2007.Albeit, as it so often happens in West Indies cricket, his heroics were in vain. It was in England’s second innings, when they were setting a target, that Sammy came up with his wonderful bowling effort of 7 for 66. His victims in the innings included big names like England skipper Michael Vaughan, Paul Collingwood, Ian Bell and Matt Prior. His magnificent performance came after his no-so-impressive showing in the first innings, when he picked up 1 for 32. With the bat, Sammy managed only 1 and 25 as Windies went down fighting by 60 runs.
2/16 and 5/29 against Pakistan, Guyana, May 2011: This was unarguably Sammy’s finest moment as player and captain. He led from the front to help West Indies register a rare victory against Pakistan at Guyana in the first Test of the two-match series played at home. Pakistan were chasing a simple target of 219 to go one up in the Test, but Sammy worked his magic and swung the match West Indies’ way. He claimed the big wickets of Misbah-ul-Haq, Umar Akmal and debutant wicket-keeper Mohammad Salman before cleaning up the tail and finished with figures of 5 for 29 as West Indies won the Test by 40 runs. Sammy had claimed a couple of wickets in the first innings as well, and was rightly adjudged man of the match.
106 against England, Nottingham, May 2012: Another wonderful effort in a losing cause. Batting at number eight, Sammy smashed 106 from 156 balls with the aid of 17 fours and 1 six as West Indies notched up 370 batting first. It wasn’t enough though as England responded well, and did not allow West Indies’ batsmen to get away a second time, clinching the Test easily by nine wickets.
80 and 2/79 against New Zealand, Dunedin, December 2013: In a drawn encounter, Sammy put up what turned out to be his last good performance in Tests. He made a pugnacious 80 from 145 balls as Windies followed on in the Test. He also claimed a couple of wickets in the high-scoring stalemate.
--By A Cricket Analyst