Image courtesy of: Pakistan Super League
New Peshawar Zalmi head coach Darren Sammy believes that seeing the Pakistan Super League (PSL) being held entirely in Pakistan “is a blessing”.
This is the first time that all the matches in the tournament are being played in Pakistan.
Sammy, who will be made an honorary Pakistan citizen and be bestowed with the country’s highest civilian award – the Nishan-e-Haider by President Arif Alvi on March 23 – has played a large part in this happening as he was one of the few international players that was always willing to travel to Pakistan in the past editions of the PSL.
On Thursday, Sammy was named head coach of the Zalmi for two years, while his predecessor Mohammad Akram will take over as director of cricket and bowling coach.
Veteran Pakistan left-arm seamer Wahab Riaz will succeed Sammy as the PSL franchise’s captain.
“As a player, it’s always difficult to make the transition. Throughout the years of playing and leading this franchise, we have demonstrated that Peshawar Zalmi isn’t just about cricket. It’s a family. From the 2nd season, I’ve been the captain. We had our successes, we played three finals and won in 2017,” the West Indian all-rounder was quoted as saying by PakPassion.
“The last two years I’ve played while not being fully fit. This year, I feel the best and I am all fit and ready to go but if there’s one thing that has made Peshawar Zalmi what it is today, is my message as the vice-captain then, and then captain, I asked players to do what’s best for the team. As a leader, I have demonstrated that.
“This season, my preparation and form hasn’t really been where I want it to be, to be able to perform for my team in the best way possible. I communicated with Mohammad Akram. Javed (Afridi) doesn’t really get involved in the cricketing aspect. We have a good relationship, I respect him and love him as a person.
“Two days ago, someone asked me who is my best coach on Instagram. I said Ottis Gibson, and then Mohammad Akram. So I have a lot of respect for him and I value his opinion. So we came to this decision, doing what’s best for the team.
“What greater example, if I’m asking my players to do what’s best for team – I think the best sermon is one that’s lived, not the one that is preached.
“I still have the option to select myself (laughing) but I think for this tournament, the way my game is, looking at the young players, I think it’s time for me to lead the team in a different role.
“I got great love for this franchise, the players respect me and it’s a great opportunity for me to lead from the outside with my skills. I know I’ll have the full support of the coaching staff and players and coach Akram.
“It may be my last game on the field for Zalmi but I have cherished all the moments. Seeing the tournament here in Pakistan is a blessing.
“I’ve never really coached, but over the years, playing in so many different franchises, especially in the T20 format, it’s about more man management than anything else. You get players for six weeks and there isn’t much you can do in terms of the technical aspects.
“In terms of having a plan together, discussing the brand of cricket and having the personnel to execute it – I’ve been doing that on the field. It’s just transferring that into the coaching role.
“Is it an easy decision? I still have a passion to play. I’ll also be captaining the St. Lucia franchise. I haven’t retired, I’m still playing. It gives me five months to get myself ready. Throughout my career, my strongest asset has been my mind. We all have families, and sometimes you disagree within your own family.
“I’m not saying that me and coach didn’t go back and forth. I’m saying I’m making the best decision for the team, which is something I’ve always preached. No matter who you are, the team comes first. My mannerisms and the way I play have shown I am a team player, no matter how tough the decision is. Nothing but love and respect for the franchise, players and coaching staff.
“I’ve always said that cricket, which is my passion, brought me here. What I’ve experienced as an Islander – we got so many of them in the Caribbean. When people visit our island, as beautiful as it is, they always say the people make the island. To me, that is the sweetest thing I have experienced. The love of the people have made Pakistan what it is. Because of the way they’ve embraced us when we took the step in 2017, this is why we see the entire tournament here playing in front of full crowds. Every sportsman loves playing cricket in front of a full house.”