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A victory for all to enjoy

Posted in ICC World Twenty20

Darren Sammy

Darren Sammy, a man never short of a smile, delights in his side's stunning triumph

“We enjoy support all around the world. I think West Indies are everyone's next favourite team.”

So said Darren Sammy at a Lord's press conference ahead of England's Investec Test series against his side earlier this year.

At the time, I discussed the theory with another journalist and could not quite conclude as to why it was true. My colleague had suggested it was memories of the much-vaunted sides of the 1970s and 80s, yet I was not even alive then!

Watching Chris Gayle repeatedly leap into a press-up position while his team-mates danced 'gangnam style' around him following yesterday's World Twenty20 success, suddenly it made sense.

While West Indies sides of yesteryear were renowned for brilliance, those in recent times have all too often provided plenty of style without the substance.

Yet it's a style that's infectious; a style that brings a smile; a style that will leave you craving the substance.

Such a marriage is not easy to come by, but if we were taught anything by the Windies' previous greatness, it is that said union can be achieved.

Yesterday it was.

Even a terrible start - that left me telling editor Chris Devine, "here we go again; typical West Indies" - could not halt the juggernaut steered by the ever-happy Sammy.

It was perhaps fitting that the contribution of most substance came from a man who oozed the kind of aforementioned style in his pre-match interview - and the innings itself.

Chris Gayle, Andre Russell & West Indies

Chris Gayle embarks upon wild celebrations with his team-mates following West Indies' victory over Sri Lanka at Colombo yesterday

In speaking to Nasser Hussain, Marlon Samuels revealed details of the party that followed their semi-final win over Australia.

While the Windies' team manager was likely putting his head in his hands as Samuels spoke, I do not believe I was alone in smiling from ear to ear and lapping up every word.

Such boasts are fine if you back up your words by delivering afterwards, and boy did the resurgent batsman do that.

Striking six sixes, including the biggest of the tournament at 108m, Samuels compiled a quite brilliant 56-ball 78 that took West Indies to 137 for six - a total they would eventually defend.

God only knows what the celebrations were like last night; Sammy certainly hinted they would be impressive as he stated: “This is the best moment for me in any cricket. This is for the Caribbean people, the West Indies fans all over the world.

“They've been craving success. It's party time now from Jamaica down to Guyana - and we know how to party - so they'll need a lot of bartenders.”

While Sammy focussed on the style, man of the match Samuels talked up the substance, adding: “We're here to show the world that West Indies cricket is back. The sky is the limit now.”

I, for one, certainly hope it is back. When West Indies win, they do so in a manner we all love to see, with a smile rather than the usual intensity that accompanies sporting achievements these days.

Their victory yesterday may not have been too welcome in Sri Lanka, but the collective roar from around the world will surely have been felt on the sub-continent.

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