You’d have had to be particularly partisan not to rejoice in the West Indies’ cricket team’s unlikely and much-celebrated victory at this year’s World T20 championship. In the last 25 years of the twentieth century, the West Indies produced some of the greatest and most exciting cricketers in the history of the game. Since the beginning of the twenty-first century, however, the once-proud team has fallen from its giddy heights to languish near the bottom of Test, one-day, and T20 tables.
Until now. Under the leadership of Darren Sammy—a man who probably wouldn’t be in the team if he wasn’t such a clearly inspiring and infectiously enthusiastic captain—the West Indies are clawing their way up the tables. One reason is the reintegration of the charismatic and potentially game-changing Chris Gayle. Another reason is the sudden emergence of the ebulliant and fiery bowler Tino Best. Yet another is the continued dogged brilliance of the stalwart Shivnarine Chanderpaul. But the man of 2012 for the West Indies has to be Marlon Samuels, cousin of the legendary Brian Lara.
For years, Samuels had been expected to don Lara’s mantle and take the West Indies to new heights. It didn’t happen: he got injured, he was immature, etc. etc. Well, this year Samuels has come into his own, not only scoring big centuries but sharpening his bowling abilities. What’s more, he’s done it without breaking a sweat. In a team that has had plenty of very cool customers over the years, Samuels is Mr. Phlegmatic. In fact, he makes Chris Gayle, one of the most laid-back individuals in world cricket, look like Yosemite Sam in comparison.
But that’s during the match. Who wouldn’t want a little bit more of what they do when they win?