Brathwaite taking over with Sammy's blessing
PORT OF SPAIN, Trinidad and Tobago – Darren Sammy might not have been particularly pleased being dropped from the West Indies Twenty20 team.
Indeed, he used social media to pre-empt the official West Indies Cricket Board announcement and then took his situation to St Vincent and the Grenadines Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves.
But the former skipper has been magnanimous in his support of the man who replaced him at the helm of the Twenty20 side – Carlos Brathwaite.
Speaking to the media following the abandonment of the fourth and final Test against India at the Queen’s Park Oval yesterday, West Indies’ new T20 captain Brathwaite said he had received a vote of confidence from Sammy and encouragement from the senior players since the announcement was made by chairman of selectors, Courtney Browne.
“He [Sammy] just told me, ‘Congratulations’. He heard it before I spoke to him, and he just said, ‘Congratulations, it’s a big challenge’. He gave me his blessing and as a senior guy appreciated it, which allowed me to ease into the role,” Brathwaite said.
The Barbadian all-rounder added: “I haven’t officially started yet, but it has allowed me to transition easier from just being told [about the captaincy] to the excitement of wanting to get on the field and lead. It was a good vote of confidence speaking to Sammy, then I saw him at a charity event, saw some of the senior guys as well, all have been telling me positive things.”
Brathwaite stressed that members in the West Indies side were “mature enough” to handle a change in leadership. He added the players enjoyed each other’s company and, from that point of view, leading the side would be easy.
“I think a team like this will be pretty easy to lead, from the point of view that the dressing room is a fun place to be. I don’t think it’s a case where I have to negotiate too many egos,” he said.
“The guys enjoy each other’s company. It’s just a matter for me to go there, do the things that I can do, firstly as a player and then a captain, continue to mould the team that Darren has started to mould, efficiently.
“Again, the most important thing is getting victories for the West Indies. As a new leader, things might change bit by bit. It’s just about adjusting and then for me to find ways for the team to continue to win.
“I don’t want to get too deep into the psychology of changing leaders and stuff like that. I think all the guys are mature enough. We have had cases where some of the guys were captains, and then played the next series under a different captain. We are professionals, we all know what we have to go out there and do.
“It’s a matter of, first, to go out there and win games for the West Indies and I hope that my leadership can influence that in some part. Even if it doesn’t, if we win the games that will be the most important thing.”
Although Brathwaite was keen to take up the leadership role, he admitted that he had a bit of hesitation and wanted a clarification from the selectors as to what their expectations were from him.
“Yes there was hesitation. I wanted to contact my family and my close advisors before I took the job. It is an honour, I would never say I didn’t want to take it. But obviously I had some questions that I asked of the selection panel before I took the job. Just basically to clarify why they wanted me, what they expected of me, and coming into the role knowing my job,” Brathwaite revealed.
Brathwaite, 28, was one of the West Indies’ heroes in the World Twenty20 final against England earlier this year. With his team needing 19 runs off the last over, he struck four successive sixes off Ben Stokes to take the side to their second T20 title.
Brathwaite was in the Test X1 against India but was dropped after the Antigua Test and his place is not yet settled in that longer format. He made his debut against Australia during the Boxing Day Test at the MCG last year, but has played only two matches since then. He has scored three fifties in each of those Tests but has not made a significant impact with the ball.
Brathwaite said feedback from the selectors about his exclusion after the Antigua Test has given him a chance to become a better all-round player.
“Being dropped, I got a clear message from the selectors why I was dropped as well. I was disappointed but it’s a chance for me now to go forward and get a bit stronger and get a bit better as well and when you get that chance again, whenever it may be, it is up to me to take that chance and become a better player all-round.”