The Brathless Wait is over: Calypso Kings are here again!

Submitted by Editor on Mon, 2016-04-11 13:20 Carlos Brathwaite is justifiably the toast of West Indies cricket. In one decisive over, he became a hero, achieving what many other established cricketers failed to accomplish in international cricket. With 19 runs required in six balls, West Indies were staring down the barrel. Eoin Morgan’s Englishmen seemed firmly in control of the World T20 final. But, Brathwaite turned the table upon England, smashing four massive sixes off successive balls to script an improbable triumph for the Islanders. Even today, we recall Viv Richards’ last ball six off Mike Hendricks in the 1979 World Cup at Lord’s. Javed Miandad’s last ball heave of Chethan Sharma over long on at Sharjah is folklore. This special and brutal knock of Brathwaite too will be etched in cricket memory forever. He massacred Ben Stokes with brutal power hitting, each one of the hits effortlessly soaring into the stands. As a gesture, to recognize this special match-winning innings, the authorities at the Wankhede stadium should inscribe Brathwaite’s name in each of the positions that the ball landed on. It will be an honor for the St Lucian whom people had barely heard of before he unleashed those sizzling sixes. Now, all eyes will be cast on Brathwaite when he wears Delhi Dare Devils’ colours in the Indian Premier League. The West Indies’ blend of flamboyance, aggression and hostile fast bowling has always enchanted us. Gary Sobers, Rohan Kanhai, Frank Worrell, Clyde Walcott, Wes Hall, Charlie Griffith, Clive Lloyd, Viv Richards, Michael Holding, Andy Roberts, Malcolm Marshal and Joel Garner were our childhood heroes. We would die to watch Richard’s bat, wouldn’t we? Though they are not as good as these golden oldies, the present lot have adapted well to the T20 format. Power-hitting is their mantra to success, evident in the just concluded T20 World Cup. If England were savaged by Chris Gayle (47-ball hundred) in the league stage, Andre Russell produced a blistering 23-ball 45 to crush India in the semifinals. Marlon Samuels (85 not out) and Brathwaite were merciless in the title tilt. Not many captains would dare to take on their cricket board, as Darren Sammy did in the immediate aftermath of the triumph. He was honest in letting the cricket world know about WICB’s bickering and lackadaisical attitude before the team emplaned for the championship. They had no team colours and money. But had they were determined to win the coveted cup. They were committed to a cause. They played like a team. They achieved that in great flair. Despite the paucity of funds, they even had a big heart when they shared their match fees with Mother Teresa’s Missionaries of Charity. Such acts of kindness are bound to be rewarded sooner than later. Now that West Indies have won three World Cup titles – Under-19 and Women’s T20 being the others – this year, there is hope that Caribbean cricket will thrive and rock to the calypso rhythm again. Pray it does, for cricket’s sake. (The author is a veteran cricket writer, environmentalist and a wildlife activist. He has had an illustrious career as a journalist with leading publications and is feared as well as revered for his hard hitting and upright writings.)