When I watched the sports documentary “Fire In Babylon”, I loved it. When I watched it again, I absorbed it. The first time I watched it, I did so as a fan. On second viewing, I switched on the proud sportsman in me. I realised the second time the real essence of the film documenting West Indies reform as aggressive, meaningful cricketers from smiling, dancing and effervescent also-rans. For those who haven’t seen it, please do.
After 80 minutes, you’ll realise how this fun-loving bunch of natural athletes were upgraded into focused professional sportspersons while maintaining the flavour of their beloved motherland. The two West Indies triumphs in the finals played at the Eden Gardens on Sunday can easily be termed as byproducts of that reform. Now, West Indies cricket has returned home and the entire cricketing world is out at the gates welcoming them.
I remember former West Indies fast bowler Ian Bishop mentioning during his commentary stints about Carlos Brathwaite being a “superstar under construction”. I must admit that even before Bishop pointed it out, Brathwaite was quite high on our wish list during February’s IPL auction.
Our new assistant coach Simon Katich was bullish about Brathwaite but due to lack of budget we couldn’t get him. I am even more saddened today after the Brathwaite show and realize what we would be missing in our ranks.
His four sixes in the final over were a masterpiece. I can assure you that there are few better moments in world cricket than a big, strong batsman loaded with a backlift coming down from moon and with a long handle grip to go with it hitting a fast bowler for sixes. And hitting them at his sweet will. World cricket is a richer place thanks to these intelligent entertainers from the Caribbean.
England too put their best foot forward. They have not been the best of touring sides to the subcontinent but this group looked more determined than the ones who have hit the Indian shores in the past.
Eoin Morgan looks calm and collected. He has some bright all-rounders and spinners in his staff. These guys can look after the performances in different conditions. Their team reaching the final of a multi-nation tournament being played in India is indeed a big deal. It is a clear sign that England have finally agreed to stop being critical about air, water, food etc. in India. It is a clear sign that England want to do away with ties and hats that go with Test cricket and embrace the florals and flip-flops to go with T20 cricket. Joe Root and Jos Buttler look set to rule the world stage; be on a look out for these two.
Celebration-wise there can’t be a better group than West Indies. There was plenty of champagne-sprinkling, strapping shirtless torsos doing a lap of the Eden, and of course, different versions of the “Champion” dance on show. West Indies cricket is back and the world is ready to host the entertainers.
The writer is former India opener and tweets as @GautamGambhir