x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 20 January 2018

Gayle key to Sammy success

On the evidence of one Test, the new captain is finding the assignment a breeze as the West Indies got the better of Sri Lanka with Gayle's 333 as his bedrock.

When Darren Sammy was named as West Indies captain ahead of the current series in Sri Lanka, St Lucia's first Test cricketer was not the only one caught on the hop.

Upon hearing the news, one of his former coaches joked he would not have let Sammy captain a rowing boat on a millpond had he been given the choice.

It was a tongue-in-cheek character reference, but it carried an essential query. How would someone as green as Sammy be able to revive a fallen cricket giant, uniting a dressing room traditionally divided along lines of inter-island rivalry?

How would he get the regional side's players to row together, when many of the better ones had turned down central contracts, on account of the fact it might hinder their earning potential elsewhere?

And, most importantly, how would he handle Chris Gayle, the moody previous incumbent who was ousted because he turned down one of those contracts?

On the evidence of one Test, Sammy is finding the assignment a breeze as the West Indies got the better of Sri Lanka in their first match under their new leader. Gayle's 333 was the bedrock, and early signs suggest he and Sammy will continue to get along famously.

Sammy has spoken in the past of how he has always looked up to Gayle, sentiments which have not been lost on the batsman.

They have also shared a common bond ever since they cast off their collective cool veneers and led the joyous pitch invasion when the West Indies won the 2004 Champions Trophy.

Sammy will need Gayle on board if his new side are going to repeat such success.