ST LUCIA BLOG: Darren Sammy, the first international will inspire more

In the first of his blogs from the lovely Caribbean island of St Lucia, Craig Walt Emmanuel, a 28-year old professional cricketer, looks at what makes his home special in the cricket world and runs through some of the names that have made cricket on the island special…

Helen, fair Helen of the West she is called. Very much renowned for producing more nobel laureates per capita than any other country in the world. It is two hundred and thirty eight square miles of pure floral and faunal bliss. Boasting a proud population 178 000, its British colonial history renders it cricket DNA.

Darren Sammy at the Prime Ministers 11 Cricket...

“The coming of Sammy has manifested the inspiration, determination and belief into local cricketers that they too can play at the highest level” (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

With its very small but stoute cricket tradition, the game has filtered from the plantations of colonial times, to the streets, playing fields and not forgetting the beaches. The game as anywhere else in the Caribbean region,tends to reiterate the competitive nature of the St. Lucian native. From the tiny children swinging makeshift coconut bats (bas coco-patois) to the veteran whose body is bandaged to mummy-esque proportions, cricket is more than a form of recreation or sport.

It is undeniably a way of life.

This country may not have until July 2004 had its first international cricketer but preceding such a momentous occasion, certain names featured quite prominently in newspapers and other media forums.

Enter Ignacious Cadet. A hard hitting wicketkeeper batsman who many arguably thought was better than the Rolls Royce of West Indian wicketkeepers, Peter Jeffery Leroy Dujon. A player of fine talent and a workman like attitude towards the game, after many frustrating seasons not gaining regional selection , hanged up his boots and exiled himself into oblivion at an oil refinery.

Then there came Julian Desmond Charles; a diminutive and determined top order batsman. Many claimed him to have a head of a donkey when facing the unrelenting pace attacks of Jamaica, Leeward Islands and Barbados; both literally and figuratively. Ironically, Charloas he is commonly known by his comrades, on a sunny evening on a lively Kensington Oval wicket, against the likes of Malcolm Marshall and Ezra Mosely went out to bat with only his right pad on. Only to arrive at the wicket, to be heckled and made the toast of jokes by the opposition fielders. DONKEY HEAD???? DO YOU RECKON??

The 1980s brought along the young and prodigious talent of one John Eugene. He was very attacking and considered by many to have been the best player of spin bowling St. Lucia has yet produced. The highlight of his career was a dashing innings of 139 that he made against Barbados against the likes of Malcolm Marshall, and Ezra Mosely. Jeanpo as he is commonly known, is undeniably remembered as the best batsman St. Lucia has yet produced. Perhaps some the new age of St. Lucian cricketers, more particularly batsmen would want to refute and disprove such a claim.

stluciaIf one began to follow Caribbean cricket just recently, they would begin to think that St. Lucia has and have produced just one cricketer. That person could only be Darren Julius Garvey Sammy. The first St. Lucian to have play international cricketand by so doing represent the West Indies senior team.

Darren grew up very humbly in a small, agricultural and rural community on the eastern shores of the island called Dugard. Dugard may not have been an ideal place to grant him the training facilities and resources to be where he is today, but the constant early morning and late evening episodes of cricket in the backyard, roads and sometimes even his domicile proved to be just a strand of what culminates to be a rather unprecedented achievement.

Sammy could also boast of being the first St. Lucian to ever captain a senior West Indies team in all three formats of the international game. So to he is the first ever West Indian captain to win the T20 World Cup. Rather decorated would you not agree?

A simple lad, with the heart and tenacity of a lion, Sammy lives by the mantra “NEVER SAY DIE”.

He oozes it in his exuberance and vigour in the outfield. Perhaps he can be considered as the most passionate, emotional and expressive captain the region has ever seen. Who would have thought such a humble kid from the Windward Islands (Grenada, Dominica, St. Vincent and the Grenadines and St. Lucia) would produce such a player who proved his starch as my grandparents would say.

????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????Sammy may not be the most attractive of players, but the pundits and critics would surely agree he is highly effective and can be counted to “come to the party” whenever the situation requires it. His game has been centred around his nagging but consistent medium pace bowling and his propensity to dispatch bowling of whatever orient to distant galaxies and constellations.

Despite all the negativity surrounding his performance as captain and even his place in the team, it is irrefutable that he produces and in regard to compound interest the guy wears his heart on his sleeve. What else can the public ask for, considering they have for so long lambasted the current crop of players for being a gang of uncaring, easygoing and dispassionate bunch of well payed Cinderellas.

St. Lucian cricket and its legacy may not be able to compete with the likes of Jamaica, Barbados, Trinidad and Tobago and Guyana but surely after the coming of Darren Sammy, two more gentlemen from the soil have represented the West Indies senior team at the international level. The second was Johnson Charles; a hard hitting and no nonsense opening batsmen and Garey Mathurin, a left arm orthodox spinner.

So yes, the coming of Sammy has manifested the inspiration, determination and belief into local cricketers that they too, can play at the highest level and even surpass the performances and accolades of their predecessors.

Much is to come from St. Lucia. Nou ka vine!!! (St.Lucian patois – we are coming) ”

Craig EmmanuelWritten by Craig Walt Emmanuel, a 28-year old professional cricketer from the lovely island of St. Lucia. He was initially known in the regional first class circuit as a top order batsman but in recent times morphed into a batting all-rounder. Craig possesses the versatility of batting anywhere in a batting line up and yet can bowl a very stiff medium pace. Thus far, he has represented St. Lucia and the Windward Islands at the under fifteen, under nineteen and senior levels. He has also represented the West Indies Under-19s in the 2004 Red Stripe Bowl held in Antigua. Craig currently plays for the Wanderers Cricket Club in Barbados and still holds great aspirations of playing cricket internationally.

James Buttler

James has been working as a journalist and broadcaster in cricket since 2006 and was an avid fan for many years before that.
As the editor of World Cricket Badger he is intent on building the website to give quality coverage of the domestic game around the world.
He is also the presenter of the Cricket Badger Radio Show on Radio Yorkshire every Tuesday evening between 7-9pm UK time.
James was the full-time Media Manager at Yorkshire County Cricket Club between 2007 and 2010.
James is a published author, a writer/video contributor to many cricket publications and a complete cricket badger!

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