Sammy says more improvements to come with fresh brand of West Indies cricket; stresses proper execution as key to their charge

By June 21, 2023
West Indies Head coach Darren Sammy West Indies Head coach Darren Sammy

Having the right mindset begins with identifying what you want. Without a clear picture of what winning looks like you'll never know if you're on the right path, which means you can't course correct. West Indies Head coach Darren Sammy knows this all too well, which is why he is hoping the team can align a success mindset with proper execution to achieve their goals.

In fact, Sammy pointed out that players are already aware of the direction he wants to go with the regional outfit and believes the ongoing ICC World Cup qualifiers represents the perfect place to start consistently improving the quality of their play and, by extension, maintain some semblance of respect for themselves.

West Indies, who are hunting one of two places to the 50-over World Cup in India in October, won their opening game against United States by 39 runs at the qualifying tournament in Zimbabwe. 

Prior to that, they registered a 3-0 series sweep of United Arab Emirates, followed by warm-up victories over the same opponent, as well as Scotland. 

"I am quite happy with the way we are going the six games that we have played we have taken steps in trying to play the brand of cricket that we want to play. So, it's about sticking to our guns and the plans we put in place and committing to the execution," Sammy said.

"In the first (qualifying) game against USA we got the win that we needed, it was a great start to the tournament, but we have so much more in the tank. The guys weren't happy with the way they played which is good sign for us, we keep challenging ourselves and it's still a work in progress trying to find the identity of our cricket moving forward but I was pleased with the victory," he added.

It is obvious why Sammy took pleasure in the win given what is at stake, but where the overall performance is concerned, the former captain and all-rounder, who took over the reins late last month, was left with a mixed bag.

This, as West Indies, a two-time world champion, recovered from the early loss of openers Brandon King and Kyle Mayers, with four players hitting half-centuries in their 297 all out in 49.3 overs.

Johnson Charles top scored with 66, while Jason Holder (56), Roston Chase (55) and captain Shai Hope (54) all did some damage, while Nicholas Pooran also chipped in with 43 runs.

Gajanand Singh had an unbeaten 101 off 109 balls, with eight fours and two sixes, for the US team, but it wasn't enough to overhaul West Indies total.

"I listened the captain's post-match interview and ideally, you would want one of them to score big hundred, but he was happier that performances came from different batsmen in the group. You look at Brandon King who has been playing well, didn't get a score and Kyle Mayers didn’t get a score so it's a good sign for us that as a group, even though we were under pressure, we came back strongly. 

"Ideally you would want one of those (batsmen) to convert (50s) into hundred and we as a team celebrate the milestones after. But the guys are preparing well, they are hitting lots of balls and they understand the direction the team wants to go in as a batting unit," Sammy shared.

"Again, I say it's early days but once the mindset is to get to what we want to do as a team, I believe you will see improvements in the days to come. So again, it's a work in progress and with the ball we created a couple opportunities, but we dropped a few catches that could have affected us in the bigger scheme of things," the St Lucian noted.

West Indies are currently second in Group A on four points, two behind Zimbabwe, who defeated Nepal and Netherlands in their two fixtures to date. Sri Lanka, Oman, United Arab Emirates, Scotland and Ireland are contesting Group B.

However, West Indies are set to square off against Nepal on Thursday and if the confidence exuded by Sammy is anything to go by, then another two points is already in the bag for the regional side. Nepal currently occupies third position on two points, following victory over US.

"Nepal is a team that is on the rise, and they have been playing good cricket, so again we respect all our opponents, but we focus on the things that we do as a team or the direction and brand of cricket that we want to play. Whenever we bat that new ball, we have to make sure the opposition don't get too much ahead when the new ball comes. 

"I thought we could have had more intent (against US) because that's one of the things we have been talking about as a batting group...intent to score and when I say that it's not necessarily looking only for boundaries but looking for scoring opportunities and when you do get the good balls, you can still get the rotation of strike going. It all boils down in our preparation which we have been doing well and I have full confidence and belief in the men that they will go out and do themselves and the region proud," Sammy declared.

On that note, he shared his views on the effects of the early start which he expects the top order, in particular, to better navigate on this occasion, if they lose the toss and are asked to take first strike. 

"We knew it, anywhere in the world a 9:00am start will pose a challenge with the new ball to the batters, so whoever wins the toss will most likely want to bowl first. But our focus as a batting group is to understand the challenge that the new ball poses and making sure that the opposition doesn't get on top of us," Sammy reasoned.

"Our skills will come into play but as you have seen in all the games, once we survive that new ball period, there are plenty of runs on offer and for us as a batting group, it is just to limit the damage or the threat that new ball poses up front. But again, the way the guys have prepared, I expect the challenges to be met with good consistency and good skills from my men," he ended.

Sherdon Cowan

Sherdon Cowan is a five-time award-winning journalist with 10 years' experience covering sports.

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