The ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup 2023 Qualifier is set to begin from June 18 in Zimbabwe. The ten participating teams will contest for two places at the ODI World Cup.
West Indies will enter the Qualifier high on confidence, having won both their warm-up matches ahead of the tournament.
The two stars above the crest on Daren Sammy’s training shirt are a reminder of just how heavy the burden of expectation can be for a West Indies cricket coach.
They bring to mind the two World Cup titles secured when the Caribbean side were the sport’s superpower, back in 1975 and 1979.
The world of cricket might have caught up with the West Indies in the old formats, but the landscape of the sport is entirely different now, too. The region remains a hotbed for cricket talent, especially in T20.
Sammy, who has been installed as the new white-ball coach for the West Indies, knows the difficulties all too well.
“I understand the challenges that come with [being West Indies coach], but we look at the squad we have here and there are exciting young talents coming through,” Sammy told The National.
“We can work with them to help move their cricket and West Indies cricket forward. There are exciting times ahead.”
As a barometer of their standing in one-day international cricket at the start of Sammy’s tenure, West Indies are just about to compete in a Cricket World Cup Qualifier for the second time in a row.
Sammy has some principles he wants his team to live by, with hard work being the underlying one.
“I have come up with a slogan: we are enough, and we have enough,” Sammy said.
“It is about putting in the work. Like my mum said, you have to stand up for something.
“I have stood up for a few things in my life, and I have been punished for it. But at the end of the day, it’s about bringing that culture and positive mindset.
“We want a good work ethic. We first had to identify where we are as a team which is [10th] in the world, then work out what it takes to be an elite performing team.
“We need to start taking steps in that direction, whether it be skills, whether it be mindset, whether it be preparation. All the things that will contribute to us being more consistent as a team.
“We have started the process and there are exciting times ahead, but I understand the challenges facing us.”
Sammy is the figurehead of a backroom staff that includes former Guyanese batting star Carl Hooper, and former New Zealand all-rounder James Franklin. West Indies greats Jimmy Adams and Desmond Haynes were also in Sharjah, as director of cricket and selector respectively.
Despite such an illustrious think tank, Sammy is strong in his own views, too, such as wanting his side to go on the attack.
“The good thing about it is that captain Shai [Hope], myself and [vice-captain Rovman Powell] share the same vision,” Sammy said.
“That is to take on the game, challenge ourselves, not lay down, but be able to throw the first punch.
“For years, we have been trying to hang in the fight, if you know the opposition is coming to knock you out.
“If you can throw the first punch, so that by the time they get up the fight is so far gone that you are able to win it.
“It will take little steps, but it is about understanding the road and journey ahead, and really committing to the things we say we want to do, in order to move forward.”