Daren Sammy looking forward to entertaining the diaspora of Canadian cricket supporters
By Colin Benjamin
Daren Sammy is looking forward to entertaining the diaspora of cricket fans in Canada, as captain of the Toronto Nationals in the upcoming GlobalT20 Canada tournament.
In recent years, Toronto has gained a reputation due to the presence of its five respective city teams such as the Toronto Raptors (NBA), Toronto Maple Leafs (NHL), Toronto Blue Jays (MLB), Toronto FC (MLS), and Toronto Argonauts (CFL) – as one of best sports cities in North America.
During the GlobalT20 launch on May 26th, the Nationals were chosen as number one in draft, and in noting this, Sammy is both honoured and willing to embrace expected pressure of leading the team representing Canada’s most famous city.
“I’m very much looking forward to the league, Canada is one of those places with a strong cricket fans immigrant community and one of places in the world that don’t get to see live cricket action, so it’s a wonderful opportunity for all talented players on display and I’m happy for fans to get to see us play in the flesh”, said Sammy.
“I’ve always wanted to be part of a league like this. When you speak of Canada the first thing you hear people say is Toronto – so that maybe is a little bit more pressure on my team to perform and deliver the goods.”
Sammy has the prestigious accolade of being a two-time World T20 winning captain with the West Indies in crickets newest and most exciting format.
Compared to other international players that are participating GlobalT20 Canada, Sammy has had a unique relationship with the league ownership at Mercuri Canada Ltd, led by founder and CEO Sriram Bakthisaran.
His playing and logistics knowledge of the T20 league landscape worldwide, was sought in initial stages after the International Cricket Council granted the tournament approval in January.
“Well I guess it’s always good when people value your opinion and experience playing in different leagues. For me its stems from a leadership background. Captaining the West Indies team in winning two cups, so I have a fair idea of what it takes to manage a successful T20 team”, explained Sammy
“I’ve known Sriram and the Mercury group for long time and we have always had a great relationship – so when he came up to me and we then had a couple meeting in Dubai, I shared my view on playing in different leagues and what would and wouldn’t work.
“I put him on to personnel that I trust, that would help him and have the best cricket interest at heart. Obviously they did all the work and things have progressed, so I’m happy to have been a part in the initial stages giving my ideas.”
With 32 of the 80 players selected from Canada and other associate nations, this factor has set Global T20 Canada apart from other T20 leagues in the cricket world in giving players from these nations a chance to play with the sports elite players and coaches.
Reflecting on the make-up of his Toronto Nationals team, such a squad dynamic particularly excited Sammy equally as the opportunity to share the dressing room with Steve Smith.
“In my team with Steve Smith coming back for the first time, I know he will be hungry and I’ll be keen to pick his brain and cricket experience. Kieron Pollard one of most experienced in this format overall think we have a good blend of Canadian, internationals, youth and experience”, said Sammy.
“I along with Coach Simmons and assistant coach James Franklin (former New Zealand international) planned before who were some of associate players that we would pick – and for me as well I had prior knowledge having played with and against some of them in Hong Kong T20 and T10 league in Dubai recently.
“What I love about this leagues potential is it’s giving players from associate nations chance to develop, which makes GT20 Canada unique, don’t think any of T20 league in world to date has made such a conscious effort to promote associate nation players.”