When did Pakistan fell in love with Darren Sammy? Perhaps it was around during PSL 1. How did their paths converge? Circumstances led to this situation or destiny some romantic souls may like to call it. Pakistan is a cricket deprived nation. Terrorism, which seeped through our country’s veins like a virus, took everything apart. Everything that was dear to this nation. Collectively, there isn’t much more important to us than cricket. Cricket Nationalism is what we dig, together. Somewhere, along the line we decided it was time to fight back, partially in our own more song and dance, less work kind of way. Pakistan Super League was cricket’s way of fighting back.
Along came this charming man. In a time where there was constant squabbling as Chris Gayle was dropped and Sammy made captain he said in an interview “ I will go down as Darren Sammy, the one who always smiles.” What a brilliant man. What an approach to life. That squabbling turned to all-out war. Their team become World Champion at the T20 World Cup. This was weeks after they didn’t have their uniforms made in time.
On @darensammy88:'Daren Julius Sammy is a brand, a force, a storm. His stint with @PeshawarZalmi has earned him enormous love & respect from all parts of Pakistan. Despite an injury in the leg he demonstrated the kind of leadership & loyalty few others have given to a franchise'
— Roha Nadeem (@RohaNadym) March 23, 2018
So, Peshawar Zalmi came calling, Sammy had seen an opportunity. Like many West Indian cricketer, he had gone rogue, a T20 freelancer. Pakistan, a country where patriotism is oversold to you each day, every day, this kind of freelancing was generally seen as open rebellion. In a fight of club vs. country or individual vs. country, you must at all times sacrifice for the country. But Sammy rose above this idea, with sheer ingenuity. That wide smile that he wore in failure and in success, won us over.
There was no façade to it, there was no India bashing (Dennis Freedman style). It was just Darren Sammy giving his very best, and embracing what it means to being a Pakistani; free spirited yet dead serious when it comes to cricket. It wasn’t an open playing field for the St Lucian. Taking over from Pakistan’s most beloved cricketer, it was a challenge and a half. And how did Sammy over come it? By being Darren Sammy. Charismatic AF! He has flirted with the most dangerous side of Pakistan, religion, and came out triumphant. Remember, when Javed Afridi, tweeted about conversion and he responded via a tweet how Jesus is the one for him. That could have changed perceptions, it didn’t.
His role, in bringing cricket back to Pakistan will never be forgotten. A wounded nation gleefully accepted a brave heart solider armed with no weaponry but a smile. Hobbling on, towards the target, final frontier towards back to back title remains.