World T20: Three titles in 2016 — men’s, women’s & Under-19 — and you thought West Indies cricket is dying!

By David Oram

 

Unbelievable.

An astonishing end to a remarkable match. A thoroughly entertaining, enthralling competition was given a fitting finale with a display of stupendous strokes from West Indies’ Carlos Brathwaite.

Dwayne Bravo with the trophy after West Indies won the World T20 title beating England at Eden Gardens in Kolkata on Sunday. Solaris Images

Dwayne Bravo with the trophy after West Indies won the World T20 title beating England at Eden Gardens in Kolkata on Sunday. Solaris ImagesAll great tournaments should end with a fireworks display. Brathwaite’s final-over flourish provided the pyrotechnics — without the need for a closing ceremony.

With 19 required from the game’s last over, young Carlos rattled off the necessary runs in four clean, successive strikes that took the West Indies to the title.

Given the match situation, I doubt any of us has ever seen anything quite like it before.

The closest I can recall is the incredible assault of India’s Kapil Dev in the Lord’s Test vs England in 1990.

Faced with a deficit of twenty-four to avoid the follow-on, and with his side nine down — and only the feeble support of Narendra Hirwani at the non-striker’s end — Kapil targeted off-spinner Eddie Hemmings.

Back down the pitch he calmly prodded Hemmings’s first two deliveries of the over. Mere sighters. He was lining him up. Then bang: Six! Six!! Six!!! Six!!!! The last four balls of the over he drove high and mighty back over the bowler’s head into the ‘under-construction’ new Compton and Edrich stands at the nursery end. The crisis was averted; and Hirwani was lbw the very next ball.

“Only Kapil Dev could do that! Only Kapil Dev!!” exclaimed Sunil Gavaskar, commentating for BBC television. He was right of course — then. In Sunday’s breathtaking World T20 final a young Barbadian emulated him — arguably, at an even most testing moment.

Crisis? What crisis? West Indies cricket, we are told, is in turmoil. It is in the mire. Yet, how many international teams wish right now that they had Windies’ problems — and West Indies’ trophies?

Their recent Under-19 World Cup victory in Bangladesh was totally unexpected. Their women XI’s superb chase-down of Australia’s challenging total in Sunday’s earlier World T20 Women’s event was a huge upset. And their amazing victory later that night over England in the men’s version was a stupendous hat-trick.

Contract wrangles and disputes have spilled over into the public arena, severely disrupting tours and inconveniencing fellow cricket countries. Internal squabbles over the structure of the West Indies Cricket Board have gone so far as to involve the Prime Ministers of the Caribbean nations. Damning reports have emerged — the most recent calling for the immediate dissolution of the WICB.

Their proof? : The complete failure of West Indies cricket for more than a decade.

Having now won the last three ICC World trophies across a variety of ages, sexes and formats, is that evidence of the absolute decline of Caribbean cricket still sound? If failure was proof positive of the WICB’s incompetence, then surely these triumphs are indicative of its effectiveness?

Some critics of the West Indies, will, sadly, not rejoice in this win because the West Indies Cricket Board will be understandably triumphalist. That is a shame. Politics, and confrontation between the opposing factions, ought to be put to one side. Tonight,tomorrow night — and for a few more evenings yet — calypso parties in the region should abound, wallowing in the win, soaking up the golden rays of glory.

Picture the scenes, if you will, unfolding in Bridgetown, Kingston, Port-of-Spain, Georgetown — indeed, throughout the whole Caribbean Islands. Imagine the dancing in the streets; hear the beat of the drums; sway with the reggae vibe; feel the rhythm of the celebration; taste the manna of victory; inhale the sweet smell of success.

That sensation can’t be taken away from them. They’ve earned it: the players, the supporters, the people. They can’t be denied. And they have every right to their revelry.

(Photo courtesy AlJazeera)

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