DUBAI: No other foreign player has become a household name in Pakistan through Pakistan Super League than the double ICC World Twenty20 winning West Indies captain Daren Sammy.
So popular is the Peshawar Zalmi captain that the Zalmi fans call him Daren Sammy Khan, a common surname in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, from where the Zalmi team belongs.
Sammy was overwhelmed by the love he got when he shrugged off security fears to come and play for the PSL franchise in the 2017 final.
His reward was a PSL trophy, but more than that the love of the people in Pakistan enamoured Sammy. He led Zalmi – standing for injured Shahid Afridi – to a win over Quetta Gladiators in the final held in Lahore.
“I feel honored and I think that it is just the love of the people of Pakistan for me that has come through PSL and it’s a lifetime treasure,” Sammy said.
“I am deeply touched by this notion and I will continue to visit Pakistan.”
Just before the PSl 4 started in UAE, Sammy was in Peshawar for the launch of the team kit and also visited Army Public School to show solidarity to the families of those kids killed in a terror tragedy in December 2014.
“Zalmi family feels like my own family and the love they have given me has always been overwhelming for me. Pakistan is always welcoming and I appreciate the fact that the people of Pakistan treat me as one of their own,” said Sammy, who played 38 Tests, 126 ODIs and 68T20Is for the West Indies.
The biggest honour he received in his career was in 2012 when he led the West Indies team to the ICC World Twenty20 title in Sri Lanka. He was awarded OBE in his native St Lucia and the cricket ground was named after him.
He was again the captain when West Indies regained the title in India in 2016.
Sammy, who also played in the IPL and the CPL, places the PSL among the top leagues in the world, primarily for its talent production.
“I see PSL as one of the best leagues in the world as it has become such a big brand in such a short span of time. It is always a treat to play in the PSL,” said Sammy.
“PSL has provided great emerging cricketers to Pakistan as well as the world. Players who perform in PSL also get picked in other International leagues. Ibtisam Sheikh and Sameen Gul are the players to look-out for in Zalmi.”
Sheikh is a bespectacled leg-spinner of quality, while Sameen is a burgeoning fast bowler.