The West Indies forged a winning path upon the brick and mortar of inherent talent and a raging anger to prove a cynical parent cricket board and a few critics wrong.
Leading into the ICC World T20, the men from the Caribbean were known as dangerous floaters, filled as it is with cricketers burnished through the annual rigours of the Indian Premier League and other bashes across the cricketing universe.
It may lack the dominating skills or patience to leave a firm imprint on Tests but you flip the contest into a limited-overs framework and the West Indies is an entirely rejuvenated outfit. Compression masks its flaws and the personnel are just right. The ability to hit hard, the nous to keep its bowling crafty, a natural flair for fielding and a calm head despite the stress that T20s can inflict, were all handy attributes to possess.
Darren Sammy’s unit had these traits and its triumph in the final against a shell-shocked England, was a tribute to the entire squad’s collective potential and to the individual brilliance reflected through Carlos Brathwaite’s last-over assault and Marlon Samuels’s fine knock that melded adhesion and aggression.
>the highlights of the final )
The West Indies think-tank looked at winning the cup as a six-step process and at every stride, it found a new hero. If Chris Gayle set the tone in its opening fixture against England, Lendl Simmons lorded over the semifinal against India and Samuels got it right in the summit clash. This augurs well and will obviously force its opposition to
not focus an entire strategy upon how to dismiss Gayle cheaply .
The consistency on display – the loss to Afghanistan can be considered as an aberration – was heartening. And like the West Indian teams of those halcyon days from the 1970s and 1980s, when a miracle was just around the corner, another one shimmered into view as Brathwaite struck four consecutive sixes off Ben Stokes to seal the championship.
The victory in the men’s segment, coming in the wake of the women’s team winning the cup and the earlier champion’s aura on display in the Under-19 World Cup, may paint
an illusion of everything is fine with West Indies cricket. However, it would be prudent to accept that these champagne moments were all crafted in ODIs and Twenty20s while Tests still remain an arena in which the West Indies isn’t entirely comfortable. Even in limited overs’ games, there is bound to be a round of transition as the
seniors are all on the wrong side of 30 .
If the future is a worry, there is another sore point and that pertains to the failure of not putting a lid on the simmering anger within the ranks. Yes, there were flashpoints that inflamed the players. The West Indies Cricket Board has been callous; Mark Nicholas may have been guilty of a wrong turn of phrase and it should be acknowledged that in his latest article in Cricinfo, he has praised the team and also apologised; and there is also a perception like Sammy pointed out that he and his men are ‘money-grabbing cricketers’ obsessed with various leagues.
Yet, these are
not excuses for the bad behaviour on view during the final. Words were exchanged when Joe Root was dismissed, Samuels flung his t-shirt towards the England dugout after the contest was won besides sniping at Stokes and rightly suffered censure from the ICC, losing 30 per cent of his match fee.
To top it all, Samuels lounged in the post-match press-conference with his legs plonked on the table. There is considerable joy among the fans as the West Indies won but all that anger on display has soured the otherwise fun memories of Sammy and Dwayne Bravo jiving the other day in the team hotel to their ‘Champion’ single.
The West Indies has always been about spreading joy on the cricket field and it is better the team sticks to that core of
playing well and having fun instead of nursing grudges , both real and perceived, and snarling at rivals. A course correction is needed and for now, it is time for some Calypso.