Darren Sammy to become honorary citizen of Pakistan

Former West Indies Captain, Darren Sammy gestures wearing a traditional turban at Gaddafi stadium in Lahore, Pakistan, Sunday, March 5, 2017.
Associated Press / K.M. Chaudary, File

Former West Indies captain, Darren Sammy, who has played a major role in the return of top-flight cricket to Pakistan, will become an honorary citizen of Pakistan on March 23.

“The country has decided to express its gratitude in style by extending an honorary citizenship to the former West Indies captain,” said ESPNcricinfo on Feb. 22.

It said Arif Alvi, the Pakistan president, has agreed to Sammy receiving the Nishan-e-Pakistan, the country’s top civilian award, in Islamabad.

ESPNcricinfo said the notion of Sammy receiving Pakistani honorary citizenship was initiated by Javed Afridi, the owner of Peshawar Zalmi, the team Sammy has represented since the start of the Pakistan Super League (PSL) in 2016.

The Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) followed up on it with the federal government in light of Sammy’s “invaluable contribution to cricket in Pakistan,” ESPNcricinfo said.

It said that St. Lucian-born Sammy, 36, has been Zalmi’s premier marquee player from the beginning of the PSL.

Ahead of the second edition, ESPNcricinfo said Shahid Afridi, who led the team in the first season, stepped down and handed the reins to Sammy, and he has led them since. The team won the title in 2017 and was the losing finalists in 2018 and 2019.

“More than that, though, it’s Sammy’s support to the Pakistan cause that has endeared him to people in the country,” ESPNcricinfo said, stating that Sammy was the first to agree to tour Pakistan when the PCB wanted to bring the PSL final to the country.

Then, when an ICC World XI was lined up tour Pakistan for three T20Is in September 2017, Sammy — a part of that squad — spoke to the other tourists as part of a security briefing, ESPNcricinfo said.

At the time, ESPNcricinfo quoted Sammy as saying: “I did brief them quickly about my experience in Lahore for the PSL final.

“We’ve had the best security team, who have also briefed them,” Sammy said. “Like I said before, it’s important. I get to play in front of my fans in St. Lucia and around the world, and we see how passionate they are. And to get an opportunity after so long, they are all happy to be part of that process.

“First thing I said to guys after the PSL final — apart from all the security and the protocol — once I stepped on the field, it felt like playing in St. Lucia,” Sammy added. “That is my honest experience. The crowd was just hungry for cricket, to see their icons and role models play in the game.

“That is what it felt like,” he continued. “That is what I briefed the players when the coach [Andy Flower] asked me about my experience.”

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