Before I am branded as an #AntiNational, let me clarify that as an Indian and as a big fan of our cricket team, I of course wanted the Men In Blue to win the ICC World T20. If anything, Virat Kohli deserved a final. But sadly, we were knocked out by our Caribbean counterparts in the semifinals. And while many fans would’ve hated the fact that the Windies went through, I like to believe that they totally deserved it. Not only because they were better than the other teams, but because their journey to the podium is the stuff of legends or, at the very least, it makes for a terrific movie script.
Post celebration, captain Darren Sammy was asked to share his joy of winning the trophy and unexpectedly, the man who is known for smiling all the time, got emotional and revealed the details of their struggle.
Their cricket board never wanted them to participate in the World Cup and commentator Mark Nicholas deemed them “a team with no brains”. But that did not stop the players. Such was their dedication that they put together 15 men and set out to train.
Without any support from the board they had to hire a new manager, Rawl Lewis, who had no experience in the field. But he did incredibly well to handle everything that was expected of him.
The team had no jerseys to begin with!
Imagine being part of a World Cup squad and not having a uniform! While the team trained in Dubai, Rawl travelled to Kolkata to get the jerseys printed.
“The trouble he went to, to get us in this uniform..” and the emotional pause by Sammy paid testament to their manager’s commitment and how much donning the colours meant to the team.
Once they finally got the jerseys they were to proudly wear, they gave everything they had to reach the final. I mean they defeated the Men in Blue, who were clearly the tournament favourites.
On the morning of the final, their Prime Minister sent them a very inspiring e-mail. Unlike their board, he believed in his team and the 15 men set out on their date with destiny.
The grandest stadium of them all, The Eden Gardens, was where the Windies walked out to face the creators of the game, England. And an enthralling final ensued. The West Indies bowled well and restricted England to 155. But the English were in no mood to give it up so easily and bowled impressively too, getting quick wickets.
When all the dust had settled, the Windies needed 19 off the last over. Their main man, Marlon Samuels, was at the non-striker’s end and the job was left to the young World Cup debutant, Carlos Brathwaite.
Ben Stokes came into bowl. The magnitude of the occasion and the ease with which Brathwaite achieved the feat had a touch of unspeakable class.
First four balls: 6,6,6,6.
That was it. The game was won. West Indies, CHAMPIONS!
Even then, the board had not contacted the team. But Sammy summed it up the best way he could:
“For today, I’m going to celebrate with these 15 men and coaching staff. I don’t know when I’m going to be playing with these guys again because we don’t get selected for one-day cricket. We don’t know when we’re going to be playing T20. So this win, I want to thank you my team, I want to thank you coaching staff … everybody know West Indies are champion!”
It will be a shame if these players don’t play again. The game of cricket will lose out on 15 great competitors. But as of now, let’s celebrate the victory of the men from the Caribbean who fought countless adversities and came out on top. Truly deserved.
Congratulations, West Indies!
Images have been sourced from: ESPN cricinfo