No longer can cricket lovers say that the best thing about West Indies is its past.
Their present was made exciting on Sunday, firstly by the women’s team, which stopped Australia’s World T20 domination by beating them by eight wickets. A few hours later, under the Eden Gardens’ floodlights in Kolkata, the men’s team led by Darren Sammy did what their predecessors couldn’t achieve — a world limited overs title triumph on Indian soil.
Going by their celebrations on the field, the partying would have spilled into the wee hours of last morning. And who can grudge them that.
For long now, poor performance from a West Indies team has been followed by ridicule. Past greats have pointed to a lack of passion apart from ability; lack of hunger besides technique, and invariably, the players have been accused of being intoxicated by Twenty20 franchise cricket. Headline writers have been trigger-happy too, what with lines like ‘Waste Indies’ and ‘Gone with the Wind’. In all this, they probably forgot the players’ financial insecurity and their constant battle with a cricket board which has seldom put the interests of the game first.
What Sammy & Co have achieved cannot be underestimated. To beat favourites India took some doing. And then, to win against England at a huge ground in Kolkata whose long boundaries cynics thought would be difficult to clear, was quite extraordinary. Their self-belief came shining through when they didn’t give up on the dream of scoring 19 in the last over against England.
The under-19 team’s triumph in Bangladesh recently has contributed in no small measure to West Indies’ current cricketing credibility. The young guns have more reason now to seek inspiration from their senior counterparts — women and men.
There is no better sight in world cricket than a West Indian team displaying an attacking brand of cricket and winning in the end. The players have done their best. They deserve a better deal — on par with the very best. Having spent the best part of Sunday and Monday smiling, they now must smile their way to the bank.