Growing up in the West Indies, it is unheard for a young boy and, sometimes a girl who never swung a bat at a ball. Cricket was the sport we were introduced to and it was the thing to do which brought entertainment to our youthful years. I remembered when I made my first cricket bat. All I needed was a long enough piece of wood and machete to carve a wooden bat; a tennis ball and tape to replicate a windball; and we would search for an empty case of soft-drinks to be used as a wicket. Basically, I learned cricket by watching numerous matches of West Indies versus Australia; West Indies versus England; West Indies versus South Africa; you get the idea? Whenever West Indies played against whomever, it would have been aired on our local television stations, most likely HTS and DBS. And more than 90% of the population’s eyes were glued to their TVs.
Back in the days, my favourite cricket player to watch was Brian Lara of Trinidad and Tobago. I mean, he dominated as a batter during his prime time and, after all, the West Indies cricket team did not have one Saint Lucian cricketer on that team. Nowadays, we have our own hero who goes by the name of Darren Sammy. He is not only recognised as the first Saint Lucian to play international cricket but he is now the captain of the West Indies Cricket Team since October of 2010.
The first time I heard of and seen Darren Sammy was during the Saint Lucia National Sports Award. While I was receiving my trophy for Junior Male Basketball Player of the Year, 2001, Sammy was the recipient of cricketer of the year and sportsman of the year awards. At that point, I never thought that he would have made it this far. Now, I can say that I’m extremely proud of that young man who’ve fulfil his dreams.
While I was in Saint Lucia, promoting my book, Hanging On To My Dreams, I was thrilled knowing that I was about to attend my first ever international cricket game on March 23, 2012 at our very own Cricket grounds—Beausejour Cricket Stadium (Established in 2002). After West Indies played three ODI (one day inning) in Saint Vincent, the series were shifted to Saint Lucia where West Indies faced Australia in Two ODI and one T20 (Twenty20). At the end of the battle in Saint Lucia, West Indies won the first ODI by 42 runs; Australia won the second ODI by 30 runs and then Australia won the T20 match by 8 wickets before leaving for Barbados.
Being in America on a college basketball scholarship, I was never in my homeland to be a spectator of international cricket. These games that I attended was an inspirational moment for me because today, there are more than one Saint Lucian part of the West Indies team and they represented for the island greatly, especially Darren Sammy who had hit 84 runs despite the second ODI loss (played in Saint Lucia) to Australia. I was able to attend all three matches and at the end of the day, I was highly impressed with the support from my Saint Lucian at the games—as reflected in the video above.
Like I said, it was my first time attending an international cricket match and I’ve never heard Saint Lucians say “our national word” so many times in one day. It was unbelievable. Every time a West Indian cricketer swung at the ball, they would have shouted, “Hees Salop!” Every time a West Indian bowl the ball, again, “Hees Salop!” Every time an Australian wicket was taken, “Hees Salop!” I’ve always told myself that Saint Lucian is the best hype crowd ever!
Before ending, I want to BIG-up Darren Sammy for his continuous achievements and for giving the youth and public an insight of a true local hero. But most importantly, making his country proud. Dreams do come true.