File photo of West Indies cricketer Ryan Hinds. Reuters/Juda Ngwenya
If West Indies go on to win the World Twenty20, they would owe it to their sprint kings Usain Bolt and Yohan Blake. Their grand feats at the London Olympics have lifted the mood in the Caribbean and the cricket team is also seeking inspiration from the deeds of the world’s fastest men.
“I remember the coach giving a speech in one of the meetings before the World Cup. What happened this year in the Olympics, that has given the Caribbean people a lot of inspiration. I remember being in Jamaica watching the men’s 100 and 200m finals. Even though it was Jamaica winning, it felt like the entire Caribbean,” said West Indies captain Darren Sammy, who is from St. Lucia, issuing a rallying cry to his team ahead of Friday’s semifinal against Australia.
“Cricket is a game that really unites the Caribbean people. After all those performances in the Olympics, this is another step for us as a Caribbean team to put a smile on our fans’ faces. We dedicate this tournament to all the die-hard fans who have supported us through thick and thin,” said Sammy.
On the eve of the semifinal, the player who could do with extra motivation is none other than Bolt’s good mate, Chris Gayle. The opener is the main man for West Indies but is a bit down following the controversy over the arrest of three British women found partying in his, as well as his team mates’, hotel rooms early on Wednesday. It remains to be seen how Gayle responds to the situation.
Sammy didn’t take the question on the effect the controversy could have on his men. The normally gregarious players looked subdued in their practice session at the P Sara Oval. Gayle himself was restrained. He stuck to his chair and didn’t take part in the warm-up football game. After mild stretching, he headed to the nets where he was his natural big-hitting self.
Overall, the match will be a battle of the big players. Both Australia and West Indies have relied heavily on their top three batsmen to get them this far. If West Indies is all about Gayle, Australia is all about Shane Watson.
Rarely has a player made so much impact on a team’s fortunes as Watson. He’s been man-of-the-match in four of their five matches. In the one match he failed, against Pakistan, Australia lost heavily. In the league game, West Indies tested Australia to the full. The semifinal is anybody’s game.