West Indies are World T20 Champions yet again. Only this time they won in three different tournaments: Women, Men, and Under-19. This is unprecedented success for any country, let alone a collective of countries that form a single team.
West Indies cricket has been in decline for a better part of two decades now. The likes of Lara and Chanderpaul propped up the facade for a long time in Test cricket. But it all came crashing down in the last few years. The administration has undoubtedly been a negative force. It has been rife with egotistical blunders. Any success the teams have achieved have been in spite of the administration's actions.
This is lesson number one: no matter how bad things get off the field, once the team is on the field it must all melt away. Cricket should take precedence over everything else. Skills and experience of 11 players must compete with those of the other 11.
The West Indies teams of the last few years have been branded as rag tag groups of mercenaries who ply their trade in T20 circuits all over the globe. Who has not been awed by the bats of Chris Gayle, Dwyane Smith, the Bravos, Darren Sammy, and others in India, Australia, England, UAE, and the Caribbean? These individuals have shown that cricketing excellence is not bound by the geographies of birth; it flourishes with the right audience anywhere. They have more fans likely in foreign lands than their own. This particular flavor of cricket is unique in its own right and unlike anything seen before.
These two lessons are taught not just by the Men's team but also by the Women and Under-19 teams. Their simultaneous success at the world stage must not be undervalued. It's a culmination of a cricketing culture that inspires hard work and exalts celebrating every bit of success. The 2012 World T20 success and the on-field display of flair with music and dance ushered in a new era untangled with the past. The same has happened again in 2016 only this time there are two more teams to celebrate.
When one looks closely at how the Men's team won the title the simplicity of it takes one's breath away. They had a long lineup of batsmen capable of wielding the long handle of their bats with ferocious power. The 2016 World T20 laid down the foundation for any future T20 teams: pack your side with players who can hit sixes at the drop of a hat. Batting first you can outscore any opposition and when chasing you can reach any target. A bowling side that can arrest momentum of other teams is enough to give you a whiff of victory. It's all down to batting for the full 20 overs and hitting as many boundaries as the team can muster. It really is that simple.
India had a great run -- with ups and downs for sure -- but they relied too much on Virat Kohli. No wonder he was the Player of the Tournament. New Zealand came in like a whirlwind but were found wanting when it really mattered; twice in about a year: 2015 World Cup and 2016 World T20. England, on the other hand, were a more complete team. They had contributions throughout the tournament from their batting and bowling. They defended their totals valiantly in the field and flayed bowling attacks when batting. The one slip-up -- the most costly of all -- only happened in the last over of the final.
The final was a game with great drama. Its ebbs and flows were comparable to Test cricket; at a much smaller scale, of course. England fought back well to score 150+. Their discipline in the field for 19 overs was commendable. They tightened the noose with every over bowled. The difference between the two teams came down to four deliveries in the fateful last over. Figures of 6, 6, 6, 6 off the first four balls of the last over in a final are stuff legends are made of. There's very little a bowling side can do when faced with such flair and authority. That Ben Stokes was at the receiving end of Brathwaite's history-making stroke play was no fault of his; it's one of those things that happen on the greatest stages of life and he's expected to grow stronger from here on.
This was the final lesson. No matter how well you plan and then execute on it, history is made by those who believe they can and will win, who believe that others will have to snatch away victory from them, who believe that it's their right to win. And history was made once again by such a team.