It was inconceivable that a team would withstand the ire of the BCCI, after quitting an India tour midway. That the same team would also give it back to their Board a day before the final is equally unthinkable. That’s the West Indies team.
Misunderstood, underrated and often considered just a motley bunch of entertainers, they are now a step away from upsetting all predictions. And the best thing is they don’t care about anything apart from winning their second World Twenty20 title in the space of four years.
To get into that mould hasn’t been easy, said West Indies captain Darren Sammy. “The pre-tournament shenanigans brought us close together as a team. It feels like it’s us against everybody else. We came here after winning a tournament in 2012. A hailstorm knocked us out in Bangladesh. The year before we were in the semi-finals. It’s a format we have been consistent but everyday nobody gives us a chance. All these things bring us closer,” said Sammy, who had declared on arrival 25 days ago that they are ‘in it to win it’.
Sammy hints at a siege mentality in the camp. Alex Ferguson and Jose Mourinho routinely whipped up such a state of mind to make Manchester United and Chelsea believe everyone was against them, and give off their best. For West Indies though, it’s for real. “People just paint us as money-grabbing cricketers because of our success in T20. Till they don’t respect us in that format and we get that sometimes from our own Board,” said Sammy.
Constant comparison with West Indies teams of the past hasn’t helped. Sammy has not been part of the Test squad for three years That hasn’t prevented him from speaking his mind on how poor results in Tests have affected public perception. “It’s the way we played in Test cricket. It really filters down to the two formats. Our Test results have not been all that good. It hurts us all, to see a side that once dominated for 17 consecutive years. But through lack of proper management and structural development, we have struggled over two decades.”
This team has somehow shielded itself from negativity. The elaborate song and dance routines after massive victories have helped. Sammy revealed that even a chilled out entertainer like Dwayne Bravo has turned motivator. “He said in the team meeting that the only thing we compete against is ourselves. That only we could defeat ourselves. Once we know what we could do well, nobody could beat us.”
Branding the team as underdogs is another cliché. To Sammy, however, this West Indies team is the equivalent of the proverbial David. He believes the team can win against all odds, but more importantly, for themselves. “We will play like David, be smart about it, believe in ourselves in the dressing room and believe in its order. If we do all these things --- we know we can do that with belief --- we are going to lift the Cup.”