If you have never been world champion, you will never fully understand that feeling, regardless of what support, even nurturing, you may have given to respective sport teams or individual players! 2012 - As said at world championship boxing, paraphrased for West Indies absolutely phenomenally welcomed victory at ICC World T-20; “The winners and new champeens – Weeeesssssttttt Indies!” Darren Sammy, Samuel Badree, Darren Bravo, Dwayne Bravo, Johnson Charles, Fidel Edwards, Chris Gayle, Sunil Narine, Kieron Pollard, Denesh Ramdin, Ravi Rampaul, Andre Russell, Marlon Samuels, Lendyl Simmons, Dwayne Smith all deserve wholesale thanks from seven million Caribbean inhabitants, zillions in the Diaspora, regardless of each player’s individual output, for winning WT20 2012!
A world sporting champion is absolutely unique. Nothing else even comes close! That feeling only came home to me fully, after many years in cricket, in 1999, while working for Cable News Network/Sports Illustrated at ICC 50-overs World Cup, being introduced as “Colin Croft—World Champion Cricketer!” I had actually “arrived!” Being world champions transcends all other feeling in sports, including, as was recently overtly demonstrated in golf’s Ryder Cup 2012, the fact that you may be a multi-millionaire. Not even Toyota’s catchy jingle, “Oh what a feeling!” could describe the euphoria!
USA’s and Europe’s Ryder Cup 2012 players are all gazillionaires. Yet, each, to a man, openly cried, for losing; USA’s team, who actually snatched debilitating defeat from the very jaws of victory; or, for winning; Europe’s team; who even dedicated their dramatic win to Seve Ballesteros, their dead mentor! Geoffrey Boycott suggested that “West Indies now have new heroes!” Quite so indeed! “Boycs”, great batsman that he was, knows that he would never experience that feeling of being world champion at playing cricket. Who knows, he could still be “World Champion”, at bridge or similar!
West Indies have won only four world championships since its inception as our international representative cricket team in 1928; one-day cricket starting in 1970/71. We needed this last win badly! Muhammad Ali, asked in 1965 if becoming world heavyweight champion, after surprisingly beating Sonny Liston, was better than winning gold at 1960 Olympics, answered emphatically; “No!” Even “The Greatest” knows that beating the world is the absolutely ultimate in sports! At London Olympics 2012, cycling’s Tour de France 2012 winner, Bradley Wiggins, one of only 16 of last 33 Tour de France winners since 1980 not to have been tainted by drugs, confirmed that his gold medal for the ‘Time Trial’ at London 2012 was infinitely more valuable to him than winning Tour de France!
1975—Most of us, including me, then completing navigation and flight technology training in T&T for naval and air traffic control situations, missed entire days of school and work, when West Indies scrambled that unlikely win vs Pakistan in the semifinal, then trounced Australia in the final! As inaugural winners of Prudential World Cup 1975; 60 overs—only eight teams present, six Test teams plus East Africa and Sri Lanka, hardly a world championship—West Indies started something for us back then that continued onwards to October 7, 2012 in Sri Lanka. We need to win more often too!
Maybe Darren Sammy, his team and crew, and all of us, owe much to 1975’s squad; Clive Lloyd, Keith Boyce, Roy Fredericks, Lance Gibbs, Gordon Greenidge, Vanburn Holder, Bernard Julian, Alvin Kallicharran, Rohan Kanhai, Deryck Murray, Viv Richards, Andy Roberts. There is nothing like the first! Those won 1975’s World Cup, giving us that lust of deliciousness, like Tennyson’s “Lotus Eaters”, that taste that we forever want to regain, ‘not wanting to return home……….but were staying and munching lotus without thinking further…….!’ We have since always pined mightily in euphoric hope for success!
Records can always be broken. The world’s best cricketer, Sir Gary Sobers, once had the batting record for Test cricket’s highest individual score—365 not out. Even with his magnificently illustrious career, Sir Gary was never included in any world champion cricket team. I will bet anything that he would even be willing to give up his records, just to be able to say; “I am a world champion!” It is a very special, singular feeling! 1979—World Cup, West Indies overwhelmed all. Again, there were eight teams—six Test teams plus Canada and Sri Lanka.
I was one of our team then too; Clive Lloyd, Colin Croft, Joel Garner, Gordon Greenidge, Desmond Haynes, Michael Holding, Alvin Kallicharran, Collis King, Deryck Murray, Viv Richards, Andy Roberts, Larry Gomes, Faoud Bacchus, Malcolm Marshall. All we did was ‘execute excellently’, to retain that trophy! 2004—Brian Lara, Ian Bradshaw, Dwayne Bravo, Courtney Browne, Shiv Chanderpaul, Corey Collymore, Mervyn Dillon, Chris Gayle, Ryan Hinds, Wavell Hinds, Sylvester Joseph, Jermaine Lawson, Ricardo Powell, Ramnaresh Sarwan, Darren Sammy, Dwayne Smith also all hoped that winning the Champions Trophy would rejuvenate West Indies’ winning spirit. It was not so, until last week!
1975, 1979, 2004, now 2012! West Indies must never again endure such long intervals of senior men or women cricket teams not winning another world championship again. It is so very fulfilling! Enjoy!