Sammy's winning words leave lasting impression for friends and foes
Darren Sammy was once the establishment man. He got into the side, led back then by Floyd Reifer, because the superstars were striking against the WICB. He was then made the captain. He has drank the Kool Aid, was the word around. He didn't always enjoy the support of his superstars because he was seen as the man undermining their struggle against the establishment. They have managed to turn him into the most eloquent, the most passionate anti-establishment voice.
Sammy doesn't make as many jokes in press conferences as he used to. He has won the trust of his superstars. He is himself a Twenty20 superstar, capable of winning matches in 10 balls. He, and some of his superstars, might not even have played this World T20. They all made a decision to take part in this tournament, to make their statement in the best way possible. They turned this into us against the world. Against the WICB, against commenters, analysts, pundits, journalists. Even though they are the most feared side in the World T20, and nobody ever writes them off, they picked out the few pundits that did write them off, and made it against them.
Even before he came to India, Sammy wondered if this would be his last tournament. He, and his other superstars, didn't have a contract with the WICB. They have to display their wares to get the contracts in the various leagues around the world. That's their livelihood. India, for example, don't have to worry about that. Bangladesh don't have to worry about that. West Indies have to. So they made the journey.
They came together only for the ninth time since the last World T20, but they are all used to playing the matchwinner's role for their franchises. This may as well have been a franchise team, but no franchise has ever had such a unifying cause to rally against. They played with the coolness of the shrewd professionals they are, and the passion of the wronged.
After securing the victory, in his speech at the post-match presentation Sammy spoke of only some of the challenges his side faced. He said of Rawl Lewis, the team manager, who had to personally work to get them into properly printed uniforms. He spoke of the hell coach Phil Simmons had to go through just because he said he wanted the superstars back for longer formats too. He thanked the heads of the CARICOM, but didn't fail to mention that they were yet to hear from the WICB.
At the press conference Sammy was in no mood for joking around either. He let his feelings be known without inhibitions.
"I don't know when I'll have these guys in the dressing room," Sammy said. "You look at the schedule, I don't see any T20 schedule for this year because of the system in the Caribbean. We have a tri-series and a [Test] series against India. We are not eligible for selection and so this tournament meant a lot. Not only for me but for the guys. We played for a cause. I really want to commend the men for the way they have just, they put their focus on cricket. And now that the cricket is over, we can deal with all the issues we want to talk about."
There was anger at everybody. He wanted to talk about all about that. 'We left the Caribbean and we said we were in it to win it," Sammy said. "The experts or so-called experts, commentators, journalists didn't give us a chance. One particular journalist said we play with no brains. That particular comment really brought this team together. Before that the contract issues.
"You look at the side: Gayle, Bravo, Russell, Badree, Holder, Brathwaite, Benn. Any given day they could have a brilliant performance. I said we have 15 match-winners. People said this was a one-man team. That's been the hallmark. Since that hundred, Chris has not turned up with the runs yet we keep winning convincingly. That shows we are not a one-man team. What I could tell you about this T20 team, it is bringing smiles across all the Caribbean fans. Even here in India, the crowd was behind us. We as a T20 outfit, we entertain.
"I don't know about the glory days where we dominated Test cricket for 17 years. That is an area where we have to improve. But the success of this T20 team cannot be unnoticed. We bring smiles to the fans and that's what we are going to continue. The next World Cup is in four years. I probably have to get fitter if I have to continue, Chris [Gayle] might have to do more push-ups. That's why this one means a lot more than the first one because we knew what was at stake."
They might be angry, but it was not all anger. They might have hit four sixes in the final over, but it was not all big hits. They are also a smart T20 side. An example of that was another excellent spell of bowling from Samuel Badree at the top. He got Jason Roy in the first over, Eoin Morgan later, bowled a maiden and went for just 16 runs. By the time he was done, England had managed only 41 in seven overs and had lost three wickets.
"Badree's spell is not forgotten," Sammy said. "That's why he's the No. 1 bowler in T20 cricket. He keeps on turning the spell. We watched the semi-final between England and New Zealand. New Zealand kept on bowling pace, and we'd said that Badree is going to boss the Powerplay for us. That's exactly what he did. Bowl wicket to wicket and the results he's got, he set the game up for us."
Sammy had not answered one particular question earlier in the press conference. He had said he would come back to it. Just as the clock was about to strike midnight, the press conference was being wrapped up, but Sammy asked the media manager to sit down and went back to the same question. The question was if this was a tournament of vengeance for them.
"2012 we believed that we could win it," Sammy said. "We needed silverware in the Caribbean. Yes, they didn't give us a chance but the way we played. It was the first taste of glory since 2004. This one with all that happened before the tournament, the disrespect from journalist, form our own cricket board, that was out of order. The only way we could make a statement was by winning the tournament.
"When you see those 15 men out there play with passion, determination and hunger for success and victories, it all stems from what been boiling inside. This victory is solely dedicated to the Caribbean people, the fans all over the world."
Sidharth Monga is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo