If you meet Darren Sammy by chance in St Lucia, his hometown, you may find it tough to believe that you are standing next to a person who led his country to two World Cup cricket titles. He’s an ordinary man with an ordinary life. He can be seen hanging out with his childhood buddies and playing cricket with them in the local park. If somebody hits the ball out of the ground, he would happily join his teammates in retrieving the ball. As an Indian, it really pained me when a gentle person like Sammy revealed that he was subjected to racist abuse during his Indian Premier League (IPL) stint with Sunrisers Hyderabad. For, here the target of such a malicious attack was somebody who treats all of us like his own family.
Both his parents were just 16 years of age when Sammy was born. He has two younger brothers. When he started to earn from cricket, the first thing he did was building houses for them. He also gifted a mini bus to his father. Incidentally, the advertisement displayed on the exterior of the bus is that of regional telecommunications provider Digicel, for which Sammy is a brand ambassador.
Sammy is closely attached to his mother, Clara, who runs a bakery in St Lucia. He always takes her along when he travels for holidays and leisure. During the last Caribbean Premier League, he even sported a jersey with ‘Clara’s Boy’ written on the back. When Sammy was a child, his mother used to beat him up with a belt for playing cricket with boys in the neighbourhood. He has shared this story on several occasions, that too in her presence, and both of them would laugh heartily.
Like most Indians, Sammy is a family man to the core. He married Cathy Daniel in 2010, who was one of the Miss World contestants. When he is not playing professional cricket, he makes it a point to spend as much time as possible with his family. Cathy looks after the day-to-day running of the Darren Sammy Foundation as its vice-president. The foundation works with the local youth by giving them scholarships among other things, and recently, it took up many philanthropic activities at schools and hospitals in St Lucia to fight the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Although staying away from controversies has been one of the hallmarks of Sammy’s glittering cricketing career, he has always spoken his mind on issues where he thought there was injustice. He was at the forefront of a player revolt arising out of contract dispute with the country’s cricket board. In 2017, following a Pakistan versus ICC World XI match in Lahore, he walked away from the medal distribution ceremony after he spotted Dave Cameron, the president of Cricket West Indies, handing out the medals.
On several occasions, Sammy has proven that he's a man of integrity and solid principles. For that very reason, we have to take his allegations of racial abuse at face value. It is obvious that he spoke out about what he has endured not because he holds a grudge against Indians, but because it has hurt him deeply.
(The writer lives in St Lucia and is a neighbour of Darren Sammy. A native of Karunagappally in Kollam district, he works as the Public Relations Director at the International American University, St Lucia.)