If you’re West Indian and have a pulse, you probably know that the West Indies cricket teams (women and men) made history last Sunday with the women unseating four time winner Australia and the men becoming the first team to ever win the T20 twice.
I am not a cricket (or any sport) fan normally. But we happened to catch the match on the radio while running errands and I just had to know what would happen so I tuned in online (which is absurd, I should have been able to watch it on local tv) to watch the most dramatic cricket game I’ve ever seen (since I’ve seen very little, this is not saying much but other cricket lovers have confirmed that it was a particularly exciting match). At one point, the screen told me that West Indies had only a 24% chance of winning the game! And the commentators were not very encouraging. But I watched it til the end and it was worth it. Four sixes in a row! Fantastic. I think I am a new fan of the game (the short version, anyway).
ESPN has a beautiful write up on it that I encourage every West Indian to read. Here’s an excerpt:
Curtly Ambrose looked worried. We lived in an entire decade where Curtly Ambrose never even looked nervous. His eyes were darting, he didn’t know if his team could do this. West Indies had played the exact way they had all tournament, they hadn’t panicked. They’d kept the chase in hand knowing that when they needed to, they could hit the ball anywhere they need to. It’s just the boundaries hadn’t been quite as easy. Samuels was exhausted, Brathwaite looked like he was seeing them well, but still couldn’t get boundaries away. One more wicket and they were out of six hitters.
The best team in the tournament had set the match up perfectly, and they just couldn’t do what they needed.
After that third ball disappeared from sight, Carlos stood there not even noticing Samuels literally running around him in celebration. Then he turned to his dugout, and he slammed his fist on his chest. His heart. Over and over again. Quickfire. Hard. Passionate. With his power he was lucky he didn’t knock his heart straight out of his chest. Samuels grabbed him, and he just kept hitting his heart. Then he turned to the West Indies supporters and box, and he kept slamming, he kept slamming. Like it was a ball he was trying to hit for six. But it was more than that, he was slamming his West Indies heart.
You could probably claim that Stokes missed each of his yorkers by a bit. But the biggest problem with balls 19.2, 19.3 and 19.4 was that they were bowled to Carlos. Carlos was a champion before the ball even landed. He was standing in the middle of Eden Gardens screaming as his team of champions jumped on him. Samuels was running around topless, with his pads still on. Someone was carrying him at one stage. The women, who must have run from whatever box they were in, were dancing and screaming. They were doing Dwayne Bravo’s “Champion” dance.
This was West Indies’ day: they owned, they built it, they smashed it out the ground.
And all that worry about their terrible governance that Darren Sammy mentioned, about the BCCI lawsuit, about their dire finances, the ICC giving them less money, them being in the worst ever era, it was hit out the ground. It is now somewhere over long-on, still lodged in the Eden Garden concrete. This team rallied, they came to gather, and they are the best World T20 side on earth.
West Indies Under-19. Winners. West Indies Women. Winners. West Indies men. Winners.
Forty-five players. Every one a Champion. The West Indies’ teams. Champions.
Almost as dramatic as the game itself was Darren Sammy’s message after the win to the entire world of cricket fans that the West Indies Cricket Board is doing an awful job and couldn’t even get the team jerseys. The WICB then responded calling his remarks “inappropriate”, a poor example given that Mark Nicholas wrote a lovely apology for an unfortunate comment he once made about WI. On my Facebook newsfeed, there’s a petition going around to get rid of the WICB. I’m not sure if it will help but it’s obvious to the whole world that something must be done.
In the meantime, I’m just waiting for the ‘Champion’ song to get out of my head. It’s an inane song but it is very catchy and, in this case, apt: