Just after the West Indies saw off Sri Lanka to lift the World Twenty20 title, there was the general ‘good old days’ feeling among many. The media went into overdrive, proclaiming a ‘first World Cup win’ in 33 years. Really, if they do think this West Indies team can overnight match that of the 1980’s, then they surely don’t know the kind of cricket Lloyd’s men dished out during that glorious period.
A World Cup win? Well, let us not be foolhardy here. This victory is a World Twenty20 Championship title, not a World Cup – and anyone even remotely interested in cricket will know the difference between the two. In fact, it is just the name that makes it a ‘World’ title, whereas in actuality, the 2004 50 overs Champions Trophy also featured a Windies victory, and that was also achieved by beating four test teams, as was in the 2012 World Twenty20. West Indies are not the ‘World Champions’., they are the ‘World Twenty20 Champions’. As for world champion, India holds the official title on account of their 2011 triumph – but for me, whichever team is currently heading the Test rankings is the true World Champion – South Africa, at the moment – because unlike any limited overs tourney, here the team is rewarded for a sustained effort over a number of years, not just a few weeks.
Coming back to the West Indies. This victory can be seen as the tip of the iceberg, for this particular team has it in them to do well in the other formats as well. Probably, they would have actually beaten Australia in the home Test series in April, had Chris Gayle and Sunil Narine been part of the squad – Darren Sammy’s men were impressive, and actually dominated both the Test matches they lost, until they handed the match to the opposition after a bad session or two. That has been the Windies problem for quite some time – one terrible session of play has cost them many a Test match.
Good old days then? Not by a mile. The West Indies of yore did not lose a single Test series from 1980 to 1995. A Twenty20 win is not a even a small patch on that imposing record. The fearsome pace attack of Holding, Roberts, Garner, Marshall et al, plus the top class batting of Greenidge, Haynes, Lloyd and Richards had made the Windies one of the only two teams to have dominated world cricket to such an extent (the other being Steve Waugh’s Australians, later under Ricky Ponting).
The current Test team has to have Gayle at all times, and the batting does look formidable with him, along with Marlon Samuels and the evergreen Shivnarine Chanderpaul in the ranks. Then there are the pacemen – Kemar Roach, Ravi Rampaul and Fidel Edwards – all can rattle the best on their day – but they have a serious overstepping problem. Narine too, will have a big role to play if he is to grow into a world class bowler, and the West Indies into a world class team. Then of course, there is Sammy.
Much has been said about Sammy – many have questioned his place in the side itself. In my opinion though, the unassuming St Lucian is the perfect man to lead the West Indies to potential glory. Ever smiling, God-fearing and proving to be a very good captain. This affable lad has undoubtedly put in his best efforts ever since he became skipper, and is a more-than-useful lower order batsman, and a partnership-breaking bowler. You can see the hard work, and his desire to keep the team united. One goal, one people – that is what his mission was in the World Twenty20. Here is a guy who is extremely proud of leading the Caribbean islands, and his no-frills, calm personality will surely help the Windies go a long way, if the team performs as a solid unit over a sustainable period.
Sammy said that the World Twenty20 is just the start of the things to come. And hopefully, there will be more of good days than bad in the offing for the Windies in the coming future. ‘Emancipate yourself from mental slavery, none but ourselves can free our mind’ – Bob Marley sang in his Redemption Song. The West Indies did play with a free mind in their Twenty20 campaign, and let us be optimistic that the road to redemption has begun, and also be realistic that the destination is far away.