Two-time Twenty20 World Cup-winning skipper, Darren Sammy, has been named head coach of Peshawar Zalmi in a surprise move, effectively ending his role as a player for the high profile Pakistan Super League franchise.
The 36-year-old started the campaign as captain but has featured in just four of Zalmi’s seven games, with questions over his fitness and form emerging in recent weeks and speculation rife over a possible rift with Zalmi owner Javed Afridi.
Sammy has been replaced as captain by Wahab Riaz with Muhammad Akram, who started the season as head coach, now taking up the role of director of cricket.
“As a player, it’s always difficult to make the transition. Like Akram said, we are a family, and throughout the years of playing and leading this franchise, we have shown it’s not just a cricket team but a family,” Sammy told a media conference here.
“The truth is the last two years I’ve played not fully fit. This year, I feel I’m ready to go, but if there’s one thing that made Peshawar Zalmi what it is, my message is to do what’s necessary, what’s best for the team. As a leader, I feel I’ve demonstrated that.”
He continued: “This year, my preparation and form has not been exactly what I wanted it to perform in the best way possible. So we came to this decision to do what was best for the team. If I’m asking my players to do what’s best for the team, then I must practice what I preach.
“I still have the option to select myself, but I think for this tournament right now, looking at the young players we have, it’s time for me to lead the team in a different role.”
Akram acknowledged that Sammy had to be “persuaded” to take up the new role and said while the St Lucian’s principal role would be that of head coach, the door was still open to playing if required.
“Daren is very close to my heart, and the Zalmi family’s heart,” Akram stressed.
“It took a little persuading to come to this decision. Daren will be the new head coach of Peshawar Zalmi starting today for the next two years.
“His contract is already as a playing coach, so if the committee feels he’s in form to play, he can take the field as well. But from today, he is head coach first.”
Sammy led Zalmi to the PSL title in 2017 and was also at the helm for the last two seasons when they finished as losing finalists.
A beloved figure in Pakistan, the Pakistan Cricket Board last month announced that Sammy would be given honorary citizenship for his “invaluable contribution to cricket in the country”.