West Indies want to win it for their people
"We have a strong belief in God. He works in mysterious ways. He performs wonders." Darren Sammy said that at an emotional press conference after West Indies had made an unbelievable comeback in the final to win the 2012 World Twenty20 in Colombo.
Four months later, these could easily have been the words of Merissa Aguilleira before West Indies' maiden Women's World Cup final appearance, made possible by an unbelievable win over Australia in their last Super Six match. "I think it was just God who saw us through in that game," Aguilleira said. West Indies had never beaten Australia before in any format, but Aguilleira now believed her team have the psychological advantage over a side seeking their sixth World Cup.
If they can beat Australia for the second time in five days, West Indies will have won two world titles in a matter of months. And like Sammy had that night in Colombo, Aguilleira spoke repeatedly of doing it for the people of the Caribbean.
"Every morning when I finish my prayers and look at the phone with all the messages and support … at the moment the Caribbean is in a total chaos concerning cricket. It would mean so much for them if we can bring home the trophy. It will mean everything to us.
"Cricket is the only thing that brings all the people of West Indies together. The more we go there and represent them the better it is for the people of the Caribbean."
Sammy's motto was, "One team, one people, one mission". The men's team may or may not actually follow that, but several players of Aguilleira's team have spoken of how united they are. Stafanie Taylor said the bonding has only increased over the years. Shanel Daley spoke of how some of her best friends in the team are from different island nations. Aguilleira concurred.
"This tournament has been a rollercoaster for us, full of ups and down and I guess that is where the true spirit lies where we can come back from … you feel you can see yourself through," Aguilleira said. "We had faith in God and we keep trusting him and he really carried us through this situation. I must say we stuck together as a team. We motivated each other."
West Indies managed one win in the group stage, sneaking into the Super Six by having a better net run rate than India. They went on to win all three of their Super Six games. Aguilleira pointed to her side's comeback in the South Africa series before the World Cup. "Heading back to the South Africa series in West Indies, we lost two matches and then went on to win the last four. So I guess this is definitely a rehearsal of sorts that has happened before."
West Indies have played Australia and New Zealand only in World Cups. Aguilleira hoped their maiden final appearance would lead to more fixtures against the top sides. "That's one of our concerns. We really need to be playing the top teams more often. We believe the ability we have and we know that we can compete against the biggest sides so it is all about giving the opportunity. The board [WICB] will have to take that perspective and eventually that will happen."
For now, West Indies had "nothing to lose" and had "gained everything". Aguilleira said she had mentioned earlier in the tournament that West Indies were here to compete, unlike in the 2009 edition where "we took part." "To know that we came from nowhere and to be in the finals, that shows the progress which is happening right now."
Abhishek Purohit is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo