India were the firm favorites to win to 2016 ICC World T20 since the tournament started and till the second last over of the semi final match played between India and the West indies at the Wankhede stadium in Mumbai. The loss was a complete shock and a bitter heartbreak for the Indian fans. The fans took some time to overcome the loss initially and actually started enjoying the celebrations of the victorious West Indies team. The videos of Dwayne Bravo and Darren Sammy dancing their way to the team hotel on Bravo’s debut single ‘champion’ went viral and had millions of views and share’s online. Their post match celebrations in the dressing room singing and dancing to the beats of their dinner utensils were enjoyed by one and all. That is the charisma of the Caribbeans.
A lot has been said about the match. The toss, the dew and wet ball leading to India’s ouster from the world event, but as they say, there are no explanations for losing. India though, have done a greater service to cricket, the sport, by not winning this match. No, I am not being sarcastic and I honestly accept that it was a shattering loss for me as a crazy Indian cricket fan and a very disturbing one. I had planned a grand party for the finals but that was all ruined. But as a true cricket lover, I must say that it was the need of the hour for the West Indies to win. They needed to win not to stay alive in the tournament but to stay relevant to the future of world cricket. The cricketing world was shrinking rapidly to just 3 or 4 consistent and strong teams and a lot of scattered temperamental under performers making world tournaments tasteless and predictable, ultimately losing on the thrill of such mega events.
To be honest, only India, from the predicted favorites reached the top 4. The other three teams were the real winners. The perennial underdogs, New Zealand, the eternal under performers, England and the extremely temperamental West Indies. These 3 teams were never talked about before the tournament.
Not only did these teams gave us great cricket matches but more importantly gave some fresh and immense talent to the world cricket.
Joe Root did wonders to his reputation of England’s next big thing while Jason Roy reminded many of Kevin Peterson. Who can forget Brathwaite’s lusty blows in the finals? While New Zealand got the limelight for some innovative captaincy for playing 3 new spinners ahead of their strike bowler Tim Southee and Trent Boult but Santner was the real find of the tournament for them.
But the real spotlight is on the once mighty Caribbeans. They have not only lifted the world cup but also won millions of hearts and billions of new fans across the world, with their exclusive and refreshing brand of cricket. For once in this era, the team is out of the shadow of Chris Gayle. Once considered a one man team, the West Indian team went all the way without the fireworks of Mr. Gayle, barring their first match against England where he scored his customary sixes filled world cup century. The West Indian team which once ruled the world cricket with their teams consisting of world beaters like Sir Garfield Sobers, Viv Richards, Malcolm Marshal, Andy Roberts and many such more started to go downhill by the late 80’s and despite some legendary players like Brian Lara, Courtney Walsh and Curtly Ambrose tried to keep the team abreast with other teams of that era, their retirement just opened the floodgates. The West Indian team has been in a state of despair since and the attitude of the West Indies cricket board has just made matters worse.
There were news of a rift between the players and the board more than once. Even before the current edition World T20, the board and players were not on the same ground and there were news of the west indies team not participating in the series.
As the Windies skipper Darren Sammy mentioned in his emotional post match speech in the finals, the team did not even have their uniforms till they reached India. The players and the coaching staff came together to overcome the Initial jitters to stitch together an unforgettable journey in the world cup.
This has been the year of West Indian cricket so far. They have risen from the ashes to mark a hat trick of world cup in as many months in 2016.
The year started with West Indies U19 team beating the tournament favorites India in the ICC U19 World Cup in February. And the West Indies Women T20 team lifted the world cup on the same day as their male counterparts, by beating the strongest team of the series, Australia. This unforeseen phase of the west indies cricket is inspirational for all the teams trying to catch up with the cricket super powers. The foundation of this stage is, as reiterated repeatedly by Darren Sammy, is the belief. The belief in the team, the belief in each other and the belief that they have it all to go all the way. Their win, along with the rise of England and New Zealand opens up the ground for all the teams now. A ground which is level for a lot more teams with no straight away favorites and more thrilling matches. For the moment, it is time to just celebrate. At the close, I would like to end on the same note and quote as Darren Sammy did ; West Indies, you are the champions!