World Cup winner seeking to maintain winning streak with Hampshire

Darren Sammy, right, will make his Hampshire debut in tonights T20 clash with Middlesex in Uxbridge. He joined Shahid Afridi, left, as the duo teamed up to show their support at the Hampshire Schools Kwik Cricket Festival at Emsworth Recreation Ground on Wednesday Picture: Sarah Standing

Darren Sammy, right, will make his Hampshire debut in tonights T20 clash with Middlesex in Uxbridge. He joined Shahid Afridi, left, as the duo teamed up to show their support at the Hampshire Schools Kwik Cricket Festival at Emsworth Recreation Ground on Wednesday Picture: Sarah Standing

Reece Topley celebrates the wicket of Tim Bresnan for Hampshire at the Ageas Bowl. Picture: Neil Marshall

Things didn’t Ballance in Hampshire’s favour

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From the World T20 final at Eden Gardens to Gatting Way, Uxbridge.

Yet Darren Sammy is relishing the opportunity to hit the glory trail once again – and this time with the Hampshire Royals.

Back in April the 32-year-old skippered the West Indies to a four-wicket triumph over England.

Carlos Brathwaite’s last-over bludgeoning of Ben Stokes in Kolkata, India, captivated world cricket and brought success to his nation.

Sammy, who later paraded the trophy around his native St Lucia, has not played first-team cricket since.

Tonight, however, he will appear for the Royals in their opening NatWest T20 Blast against Middlesex at Uxbridge.

He will be joined by Shahid Afridi, who has signed up for his third spell at the Ageas Bowl.

The duo turned out for Hampshire’s seconds yesterday as a warm up for the grand event – and tonight Sammy is bidding to get off to a winning start.

He said: ‘I am looking forward to having an impact on and off the pitch with Hampshire.

‘It is not Eden Gardens but it is still cricket and I feel the same way about every game.

‘If I ever lose that feeling of being fired up then I don’t want to get up to play. I still have the fire in my soul, whether playing for St Lucia, Hampshire or the West Indies.

‘I still have that same feeling and am looking forward to being part of the T20 Blast and winning some games for Hampshire.

‘I wouldn’t say my life has changed since winning the World Cup, but I’ve enjoyed it, we’ve created history.

‘I have been home, whereas a few of my team-mates haven’t had chance.

‘I have enjoyed taking the cup around St Lucia, seeing young kids, giving motivational speeches.

‘I did say the cup was for the West Indies, it is not every day a normal person gets to hold the World Cup, but that is what we did.

‘I wish I could have gone all around the Caribbean with the trophy, but life has been good and I am still enjoying it.

‘You just go back to that day in Eden Gardens and looking at that last over and four sixes and, no matter what mood you are in, it brings a calm and a smile to your face and your soul.’

With James Vince on Test duty with England, Sean Ervine has been named Hampshire’s limited overs captain.

It is the 33-year-old’s benefit year, having arrived at the Ageas Bowl in 2005.

And under his guidance, Sammy is itching to make an impact against Dawid Malan’s Middlesex.

The all-rounder added: ‘I have been in the nets right away and played a couple of games for the seconds.

‘I want to make sure I am match-ready to have the impact I want for Hampshire.’

– NEIL ALLEN

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