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Last Updated: Monday, 21 June, 2004, 09:52 GMT 10:52 UK
Sammy's chance to join the big time
By Oliver Brett
BBC Sport

Darren Sammy, barely out of his teens and in his second summer as an MCC Young Cricketer, has recently had his childhood dream come true.

When the St Lucian all-rounder flew from his summer base in Hampstead, north-west London to Belfast he joined the West Indies senior squad for the first time.

DARREN SAMMY FACTFILE
Darren Sammy
Born: 10.12.1983, St Lucia
First-class batting
56 runs at 23.73
First-class bowling
22 wickets at 26.50
One-day batting
211 runs at 23.44
One-day bowling
15 wickets at 24.40

"I had always dreamed of playing with Brian Lara ever since I was a little boy and now I can have that dream come true," he tells BBC Sport.

"It really is a wonderful thing being in the same squad as Brian Charles Lara."

He had a chance with bat and ball in both matches against Ireland, taking 1-28 in seven overs in the match the West Indies won.

He may even make the West Indies' starting line-up for their first match in the series on Saturday against New Zealand.

Even if he does not, he should be encouraged by the West Indies Cricket Board's radical youth policy over the past four or five seasons.

And all being well, he is set to become the first St Lucian to play international cricket.

Sammy has two strings to his bow. "You could pick me as a batter or a bowler," he says.

"I bowl at 82 mph - I'm more of a swing bowler.

"I learnt to swing the ball at under-15 level and the conditions in England have really suited me a lot."

Life at Lord's has treated him well.

"I must say that the MCC young cricketers are a good bunch of guys and I really enjoy playing with them.

"Yes, I miss home but here it is just like a home from home with guys like [head coach] Clive Radley who have really helped me out a lot and made me improve my cricket."

J Kallis
Jacques Kallis is the current player most admired by Sammy

He was surprised to get the call-up to join Lara and company.

"People had been making a big fuss at home that I should be in the one-day squad and I was always keeping my hopes high.

"But getting the call-up was a big surprise. It had me in stitches for a while."

His favourite Windies player of the past is Curtly Ambrose ("I loved watching him bowl") but his current role model is not from the Caribbean.

"My favourite cricketer has always been Jacques Kallis because of his all-round ability."

Sammy knows England will be tough opponents on home soil.

"Obviously Freddie Flintoff and people like that are playing very good cricket at the moment and I will have to take my game up to a new level to face them."

But he is confident that the drawn one-day series between the two sides in the West Indies will hold them in good stead.

"I have a strong feeling we will come through this tournament because we have guys like Lara, Chris Gayle and Ramnaresh Sarwan who are among the best one-day batsmen in the world.

"I am very confident that we have what it takes. If everyone can get their ability together we will be a force to be reckoned with."


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