Sammy proved that he was not a weak link in the champion side in 2012
If ever there is a tale of the ‘rise and fall’ of a team and the resultant emotions of love and loss that haunted cricket fans across the universe, the West Indies has the sole rights to that story.
The men from the Caribbean dominated cricket in the 1970s and 1980s, slumped in the subsequent decades and forced an entire generation to grieve over the lost riches of marauding batsmen and menacing fast bowlers.
That sense of nostalgia was further enhanced when a British documentary titled ‘Fire in Babylon’, was released in 2010.
The riveting film captured the essence of Caribbean cricket in its prime. Soon fans were lost in their whirlpool of remembrances that had Sir Viv Richards at his imperious best and Malcolm Marshall in his limb-and-stumps threatening ways.
‘Ah the good old days’, went the yearning sigh while the clock was seemingly frozen in a lost era. And then ‘Colombo, October 7, 2012’ happened.
The West Indies clinched the ICC World Twenty20’s fourth edition. In the final, Darren Sammy’s men stunned Sri Lanka and won the game by 36 runs.
True to the Calypso tradition, the West Indies team savoured the celebratory night and danced to its then favourite number: ‘Gangnam Style’.
Later, draped in his team’s flag, Sammy told the media: “The bar-tenders will have a busy day back home.”
The goodwill that his team generated wasn’t restricted just to Antigua or Port-of-Spain as across the globe, fans raised a toast to their second favourite team after their respective national squads.
The outcome may have been a surprise especially after the West Indies mustered a below-par 137 for six and that too thanks to Marlon Samuels’ 78 but Sri Lanka never looked stable despite being in its backyard and was all out for 101.
Sunil Narine grabbed three wickets for just nine runs and though it was a spinner, who did the star-turn for the West Indies unlike its usual script of speedsters overwhelming rival batsmen, none grudged the visitors their success.
In hindsight, the West Indies had the team to bag a much-needed ICC silverware after a long wait because prior to this, the last hurrah came in 2004, when Brian Lara held aloft the ICC Champions Trophy at the Oval. Sammy’s men were a bunch of supremely talented cricketers, who had become talismans for their respective teams in the Indian Premier League.
Think about Royal Challengers Bangalore (Chris Gayle), Chennai Super Kings (Dwayne Bravo), Mumbai Indians (Kieron Pollard) and Kolkata Knight Riders (Narine) and you get a picture of how critical these players were for their respective franchises.
Having polished their talent in the tense IPL arena, most of Sammy’s men were well aware of the excruciating demands of Twenty20.
That knowledge came in handy and the sum proved larger than the parts. Gayle, Johnson Charles, Bravo, Pollard, Ravi Rampaul, Narine, Samuels and Sammy played their roles well.
If Gayle (75 n.o., from 41 balls) blew away Australia in the semifinal, he turned diffident in the summit clash but the champion side found another hero in Samuels and the title was nailed.
The West Indies had finally bucked the odds and its captain proved that he was not a weak-link.
An introspective Sammy said: “I get paid to play cricket. And I always say I live my life one way. Christ came to this Earth, did nothing wrong and yet was crucified. I am nowhere close to that man.”
That night in Colombo mixed ecstasy with philosophy and none complained.