We does win, dem does lorse.
Mathematically, defending champions West Indies were knocked out of the 2021 T20 World Cup when they failed to beat Sri Lanka on Thursday 4 November. In fact, Kieron Pollard’s side were effectively out of the World Cup after they could only muster 55 in their opening game against England.
Some commentators kept the faith until the bitter end, opting for ‘Mission Improbable’ over ‘Mission Impossible’ even when it was clear to the discerning that the enterprise was doomed. And once Mission Maroon was effectively marooned, at one and the same time, they called for an inquiry into the debacle and the sacking of captain, coach and selectors—not necessarily in that order.
But there are those who would argue that the chances of a successful WI defence were at or near zero from the day lead selector Roger Harper and his panel finalised the squad.
Where selection is concerned, sentimentality is not asset but liability.
We does win, champions who taste defeat know only too well, dem does lorse…
In the cold, hard light of the post-defeat days, erstwhile allies distance themselves, abandoning the lure of the lens that looks starry-eyed at achievements of yesteryear and resorting to the steely, unsympathetic logic that logs yesterday’s failures.
Others opt to say nothing, seeking balm for their souls in the successes already indelibly etched in regional cricket’s collective unconscious…
2016, Kolkata: Carlos Brathwaite’s 34* off 10 balls:
Twok! Twok!! Twok!! Twok!!!! Twok!!!!! Twok!!!!!!
Scoring 36 runs off a six-ball over is no mean feat. Achieved four times in white ball cricket, it has never once been done in a Test match.
Fittingly, in the game’s gold standard format, it is the world record holder for the highest individual innings who has the honour—now jointly—of scoring the most runs in a single over. Brian Lara took 26 runs off an over from Pakistani leg-spinner Danish Kaneria in November 2006. But three years earlier in 2003, he had already plundered 28 off South Africa’s left-arm spinner Robin Peterson at the Wanderers.
Neither Kaneria nor Peterson has quite earned the notoriety of poor Malcolm Nash. He had the misfortune to be the bowler who started the ball flying. In 1968, Sir Garry Sobers crashed him over the boundary six times consecutively in the same over.
After the world’s greatest all-rounder, current India coach Ravi Shastri came to the six-sixes party, also in a first-class match.
Another West Indian, current white ball captain Pollard, became the third batsman to earn membership in the exclusive international cricket six-sixes club, taking advantage of Sri Lankan leg-spinner Akila Dananjaya at the Coolidge Cricket Ground in Antigua in 2021.
That club’s founder, however, was South Africa’s Herschelle Gibbs, whose 36 came in the 2007 World Cup. India’s Yuvraj Singh joined in the same year and the USA’s Jaskaran Malhotra has since followed Pollard into the group.
Admirable as all that power-hitting has been, none of the aforementioned six batsmen managed to clear the boundary six times consecutively when they needed to do so to secure an unlikely victory.
Nor did Carlos Brathwaite.
But CB got more than halfway there. Which is what makes his achievement in the 2016 World Cup sail, like his four sixes, way above all others.
And given the mood in which the almost-28-year-old Barbadian was, with the whole weight of the West Indian world on his broad shoulders, on that fateful, red-letter-white-ball day in Eden Gardens, who doubts that he would have? Few West Indians.
Significantly, none of those who do is among the 15 players to whom fell the task, in 2021, of defending the title CB had so gloriously claimed for us all.
With West Indies chasing 156 for victory, Marlon Samuels has so far played a fine hand for an unbeaten 85 off 66 balls (9 x 4, 2 x 6) to get them to within 19 of that formidable target. But he and Brathwaite opt not to risk a run-out on the last ball of the penultimate over from Chris Jordan, leaving CB to face the challenging music.
“Swing,” the senior partner advises his junior, “for the hills.”
Stokes’ strategy, he subsequently revealed, was to seek to spear a yorker under Brathwaite’s bat. Uncooperative, CB does not get the memo. Or declines to read it.
Twok! The first ball flies into the stands, clubbed over backward-square-leg.
Twok!! Ball two joins its predecessor in the stands, clobbered over wide long-on.
Twok!!! Persistent, Stokes tries again! Unrepentant, Brathwaite clouts him sweetly away again, off the middle of the bat, over long-off this time.
You up there in the stands, duck!
WI now need only one run to seal a truly incredible win.
I can’t say for certain but I’d guess Stokes is an Arian; the way the earlier efforts turned out, only a stubborn old ram would try for a fourth yorker.
Twok!!!! For the fourth time, Stokes fails to spear the ball past Brathwaite’s bat. Brathwaite does not spare him.
For the fourth time, CB crunches the would-be yorker over the ropes, once more on the leg-side.
West Indian joy knows no bounds. Euphoria!
It is there in the Usain-Boltesque sprint that catapults the entire West Indies contingent, men, women and Under-19s, in Olympic 100m-record-threatening time towards Samuels and Brathwaite.
It is there, shining through the broad white-toothed grins on black faces.
It is there in the triumphal upraised arms and weapon of mass destruction that disappear under the denigrated wave of celebrating humanity.
It is there in the atavistic, feral roar unleashed, certainly speaking a word or two about cricket but perhaps speaking volumes about race and colour and centuries of oppression and domination and exploitation.
It is there in the effusive congratulations exchanged on the field far, far longer than is the norm.
And it is there is the no-holds-barred Carnival party and celebrations that commence on the fringes of the Eden Gardens field and continue far, far into the night.
And endure, alas! into 2021. Five years later, many have romanticised the moment. Many have opted to deliberately ignore the context. Or have simply forgotten it.
WI cannot afford to forget.
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