The World T20 2016 crown was reclaimed by the West Indies at the Eden Gardens, in what is being called a historic match. The Caribbeans were at their devastating best with both bat and ball; achieving a decent target of 156 in phenomenal fashion.
Carlos Brathwaite destructiveness on the pitch was matched in equal proportions by skipper Darren Sammy, at the post-match ceremony, slamming the WICB (West Indies Cricket Board). It is unusual for any captain to hit out against his own board in a ceremony being broadcasted globally. But this was obviously triggered by a wave of emotions and a journey that could be subtly described as ‘difficult.
The West Indies cricket team, bedeviled by major issues with their administrators, are yet to do anything significant in the other two bigger formats of the game. However, lifting the World T20 cup for the second time, thus, meant a lot to the cricketers, who are considered a merry band of misfits by their board.
Despite facing various issues before the start of the tournament, the Windies began the group stage with a bang against England as the ferocious Chris Gayle hammered the quickest hundred in the history of the World T20. Subsequently, they beat Sri Lanka and then South Africa, lost an insignificant match to Afghanistan and then startled the hosts, India who looked primed for a big assault at the title.
An incredible tournament throughout
The Carribeans have always been known for their merry ways around the field. But beneath the swaying hips and wide smiles laid the long-held emotions which fuelled the team to outgun the rest.
Insults, resentment, and wounded pride made for an explosive cocktail. The Champions, as revealed by the skipper himself, saw their team rip to shreds both on and off the field. The team who have been mocked and criticized by people and felt they lacked their long due share of respect.
In one of the tournament previews, broadcasted on ESPN, Mark Nicholas spewed venom by saying that the West Indies lacked brains. His exact words were “short of brains but have IPL history in their ranks.”
This was an insult enough to injure the team’s pride and consequently bring out the best out of them.
The team is crammed with grave problems to which even the second T20 title might fail to deliver a solution. As revealed in the post-match interview with Darren Sammy, the players did not even have team jerseys when they were traveling from Dubai to Kolkata. They were disrespected by their own board and nobody thought of them as capable of being one of the contenders of the trophy.
A dispute that threatened to end West Indies cricket as we know it
The relationship of the players with the board is can at best be described as dysfunctional and deteriorating as each day passes. The deep void between them came to head when there was a dispute over the pay before the start of the tournament.
The board was penniless and thus, the players were entitled to only meager sums. The WICB has failed not only to match the financial power of the rest of the cricketing nations but also to honour their own commitment to their country and players. And had BCCI pressed on with their claims for $42 millions, from the West Indies board for pulling out of the 2014 tour, the board might have already been staring down the barrel of insolvency.
This was no one-time matter as in 2005, the Windies had already tread through these choppy waters. The team failed to appear in Australia for a tri-series due to a disagreement over salaries. The Windies board failed to learn from mistakes as the Indian tour fiasco let the world see of their incompetence once again. The buck didn't stop there either as the board threatened the cricketers to send a second-string team to India if their proposals were not accepted during the build-up to the marquee WT20 tournament.
Even on the field, a few things went against the Windies. The mystery bowler and their greatest weapon on the subcontinent, Sunil Narine still missed out on the World T20 as he remains under suspension due to his suspect action. The cases of Lendl Simmons and Kieron Pollard missing out due to injuries going into the tournament didn’t give them any respite, only for the former to return in place of the injured Andre Fletcher.
Despite the all on and off-field odds, the team has won the world finals. Throughout the campaign, the team remained oblivious to their problems and answered all the haters with the coveted trophy.
This was not just West Indies vs. England. This was West Indies vs. the world and West Indies vs. ‘The Impossible’. Mark Nicholas has been left with eating humble pies and the doubter left speechless.
In the face of so many obstacles, this victory calls for a grand celebration by the Champions.
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