West Indies may have become the first team to win the ICC World T20 twice. No doubt they are immensely popular in this format of the game, and even successful at that, as their players ply their trade in franchise leagues all over the world. But there is still the hunger to bring back their glorious Test days of the past. Captain Darren Sammy, who only figures in the West Indies T20 scheme of things, said his team’s World T20 title will inspire the Test team.
Emotionally drained after an exciting final against England, Sammy said with passion: “We get a lot of stick wherever we go because the way we play for Test cricket. T20 and Test cricket are a totally different format. We are very good in T20 cricket. The fact is that we have not been able to play a brand of Test cricket that allows us to win. If you look at our side, we have a young captain in Jason (Holder), who I think is improving all the time. We have some youngsters. With structured development, I see the Bravos, the Blackwoods, the Brathwaites, the Bishoos and all the guys making an impact. They could take inspiration from the way we play T20s, just be more dedicated to Test cricket.”
Sammy reflected on the tough days they had to go through before putting them aside and achieve their goal of lifting the trophy here. “In 2012, we believed we could win it. We needed a silverware in the Caribbean. Yes, they didn’t give us a chance but the way we played, it was the first taste of glory since 2004 (Champions Trophy). This one, with all that happened before the tournament – the disrespect from journalist, from our own cricket board – that was out of order. The only way we could make a statement was by winning the tournament. When you see those 15 men out there play with passion, determination and hunger for success and victories, it all stems from what been boiling inside. Now it’s over, we can talk about it. This victory is solely dedicated to the Caribbean people, the fans all over the world,” the 32-year-old from St Lucia said.
Sammy did not have a memorable tournament in terms of his individual performances. But he is on par with the legendary Clive Lloyd for winning a world title twice. “It (on par with Lloyd) means a lot. I don’t know when I'll have these guys in the dressing room. You look at the schedule, I don't see any T20 schedule for this year because of the system in the Caribbean. We have a tri-series and a series against India. We are not eligible for selection and so this tournament meant a lot. Not only for me but for the guys. We played for a cause. I really want to commend the men for the way they have just put their focus on cricket. And now cricket is over, we can deal with all the issues we want to talk about,” Sammy said.
“I must commend the manner in the way they have played in the entire tournament. We left the Caribbean with a six-step goal in the tournament. Carlos Brathwaite, debut World Cup, what a player he has shown that he could be. Marlon Samuels, again in the final, speaks volume. Bravo, Russell all the guys chipped in. For me as a leader it was just a joy to captain these guys out there. Our team is full of stars, for me as a leader it is just about managing all the egos in the dressing room and make the right decisions for the team. People might say I didn't take part in the tournament but for me, my job is do what's necessary for the team – to make the right decisions on the field, to take inputs from senior players and it was just tremendous tournament and we're going to celebrate the win.”
Amidst the tense final over in which West Indies needed 19 runs, and Carlos Brathwaite finished off in style, Sammy said reserve player Jerome Taylor believed the team would win with two balls to spare. Sammy described the final over thus: “Okay 19 runs, six balls, all of us in the dugout said three hits, that's all we need. First one over square leg, six. Yes! Come on, Carlos. Second one, where it did go, deep mid-wicket? Long-on? Yes! Come on, Carlos! One more hit away and you know the third ball – six again! Ramdin thought we won. He was halfway on the field. Look, it was just amazing. Jerome Taylor sat in the dugout and said we'll win with two balls to spare and he was spot on. It was just a joy. We needed this. We've been through so much. To come out here and win this tournament. It was just amazing.”
Right from the start of the tournament, Sammy has been maintaining that his team is made of 15 match-winners. It was 27-year-old Brathwaite’s turn in the final. “There's a reason why Carlos was bought in the IPL (by Delhi Daredevils for Rs 4.2 crore). They've seen what he is capable of doing. When we lost Pollard and he replaced Pollard, I told the guys he’s the one to look out for. The way he's played not only with the bat but also with the ball, he's going to be a massive asset for us. He's improved every game. This is the depth we have in the team. No Narine, no Pollard, Simmons came in late, no Darren Bravo and yet still we won a cup. It shows that we are really good in the format. Again today, the way he played under pressure was just tremendous to watch.”
Amidst all the heroics with the bat, it is easy to forget leg-spinner Samuel Badree’s spell of four straight overs at the start of the England innings. Sammy reminded that “it was not forgotten”. “That's why he's the No. 1 bowler in T20 cricket. He keeps on turning the spell. We watched the semifinal between England and New Zealand. New Zealand kept on bowling pace and we'd said that Badree is going to boss the Power Play for us. That's exactly what he did. Bowl wicket to wicket and the results he's got, he set the game up for us.”
Now with the World T20 conquered, it’s time for some unfinished business with the cricket board to go back to.