Team unity did it for Windies
By Andi Thornhill | Wed, October 10, 2012 - 12:00 AM
Victory is the likely outcome when things are done in one accord.
I place the West Indies triumph in the ICC World Twenty20 in this category. My special toast is to unity.
The road has been rocky and the cricketing waves very turbulent at times since our halcyon days came to an end in the mid-1990s.
The ship always looked as though it could run aground as it sailed the high seas with no compass to guide it to safe waters. There was one fleeting exception to the rule in 2004 when the West Indies won the Champions Trophy under the captaincy of Brian Lara.
The ninth-wicket heroics of Courtney Browne and Ian Bradshaw in the final against England is a memory that has not faded and the exceptional impromptu analysis of every player by Lara at the Grantley Adams International Airport where a huge crowd had gathered to welcome the team home.
The euphoria of that triumph should have been used to build an even stronger foundation in all aspects of the game but it wasn’t.
What ought to have been redemption soon turned into what seemed to be a path of self-destruction with the many disputes that were to follow between the West Indies Cricket Board (WICB) and the West Indies Players Association (WIPA).
They seldom conformed to the tenets of collective bargaining, and sadly, those shades of disunity served to set off everything else, and it is arguable that it affected performance in the middle.
The opportunity to consolidate was wasted after claiming the Champions Trophy.
It is pertinent that in the midst of the current celebrations, we don’t lose sight again of the vision to make West Indies cricket the symbol of excellence.
I am not saying that having tasted a rare victory in a major competition it means that we can automatically conquer all, but it should be confirming that once we apply the basic principles to suit the requirements of a particular setting, we can come out on top.
If we were guilty in most situations in the last decade of failing to apply pressure and to soak it up when asked, I think there were solid grounds for an acquittal in the just concluded tournament.
The systematic destruction of the once mighty Australia in the semi-finals was the epitome and the new standard the team should try to sustain in all forms of the game.
To many learned observers, it was cricket perfection – never mind it was in the shortest form of the game.
Cricket is cricket and how you play on the day is all that matters.
Yet again, none of that would have been possible without a common sense of purpose.
Talent alone can’t win accolades, especially in team sports. At every phase of the tournament, different individuals were able to offer their “A” game for the benefit of the team.
Up to this point, I’ve steered clear deliberately of highlighting individual performances as my theme focuses on the collective responsibility that earned victory.
However, I think we have to acknowledge the transformation in the approach of Marlon Samuels and how he has become the ultimate team man.
When, for instance, we recall the famous role he played in the running out of Lara in his last competitive game for the West Indies, you can liken Samuels’ second coming to that of Paul’s on the road to Damascus.
Since that time and the other issues which retarded his growth, it would seem that Samuels has seen a greater light which he uses to enhance the team’s chances of success.
Nothing happens before the time and it is great that with maturity and having experienced some of the hottest fires, he is now in a position to fulfil the potential that was first spotted from his days as a youth cricketer.
Once again, credit must be given to the management for instilling team discipline and making the players buy into the concept of putting team goals ahead of individual ones.
The much ridiculed captain Darren Sammy deserves to savour his finest hour in cricket because he did a masterful job in leading his troops to a significant milestone in the climb to the summit.
We are still some way off but at least with the T20 crown on their head, the team has reaffirmed to all West Indians that old maxim that unity is strength.
There must be renewal of this spirit at the start of every game so that success will not be occasional but habitual.
● Andi Thornhill is an experienced award-winning freelance sports journalist.
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