A wounded warrior is often quite a dangerous opponent to have because he knows no fear and would fight out till his last breath to survive. He hangs by his instincts while his heart and courage drive him to survive each moment, every single day. The wounded warriors that I write today of are the men who once dominated world cricket like it was no one else’s business and the men who also saw themselves putting up the most awful of performances, an anti-thesis to their once dominant phase in the cricketing arena, men who often win a billion hearts by their sheer celebration skills, the men who were humble enough to acknowledge and encourage a ‘minnows team’ who caught them on the wrong foot, much to the surprise of the world were even spotted sharing the ‘Champions Dance’ with them, the men who wear passion on their sleeves and dance on their heels.
Much has been said and written about the events that led up to the T20 World Cup as far as the Windies team is concerned. They have had more than their share of ups and downs for the past few quarters now, be it pulling mid-way out of the India series to getting thrashed and questioned about their belonging-ness to the longer form of cricket to issues with the board owing to salaries and player contracts, injuries to key players right before the commencement of the World Cup. It was as if every step that they tried to take to get away from one pit, only eventually got them dragged into a new one.
It is beyond comprehension to live with so many stressful distractions which can drain you out and deviate your focus from your primary responsibility to train and excel at the sport, a sport which rests on your shoulders expectations of a nation of millions to bring them some joy amidst the day-today turmoil they go through. It is the hardest to keep your chin high amongst these circumstances and is no less than a testimonial of the mental toughness it builds.
We all seek a ray of hope to help us hang-in there, to inspire us to fight another day and these Caribbean men found not one but 2 such inspirations coming from their U-19 team who beat India to be crowned world champions and their women’s team who managed a berth in their maiden T20 WC this afternoon.
But these are such phases in life that actually make you so strong and determined that you start believing a lot more in your own abilities to bail you out than rely on external help or prayers. Such moments craft out men who now know that they can write their own destiny and stop being mortals. Imagine life throws you up against not 1 but a bunch of these men who each wears the ability to stand up and shoulder the responsibility to take the team to the other side of the line. This stands valid even if this player has just come back from nursing a hamstring injury or a broken jaw or even to have landed an evening earlier from his home country as a cover for his fellow brother who withered away in his journey to save the day for his country. Such strong is the belief of these men in their abilities that they have sort of made it a habit of landing mid-way into the tournament and changing fortunes for their teams as Simmons did a while back with Mumbai Indians or Gayle thrust some life back into RCB in IPL 2011 when drafted as a replacement for Dirk Nannes after having not retained by Kolkata Knight Riders.
A victory for these men is no longer about individual honors but about winning it for their country-men back home, victory is about giving it back to the people who showed lack of respect to the unit as a whole & questioned their work-ethics and took them for granted, winning it to prove that belief goes far beyond motivational courses and displaying what strength belief can give a man. This victory also can be an over-whelming experience, so much so that an emotional National Cricket Team Captain after having knocked out the host & the favorites for the tournament, musters up enough guts to say on national television, “It feels like it is this West Indies team, coaches & staff versus the entire of the world. We have been through a lot and this victory means a lot to us, to our nation”. As funny a game Cricket is, today’s victory is sure to rain in happiness for the millions in the Caribbean while a billion hearts broke in our own backyard. Maybe they needed this reason to celebrate far more than we did and it was a well-deserved victory.
As much with a broken heart that I am typing the finish lines, I couldn’t be happier for these Caribbean men are now set to meet the Pommies at Eden Gardens this Sunday for the title. The victory in the finals here for Windies would be a perfect answer to a lot of people and a lot of questions that these men often get thrown at, a perfect answer to the lack of respect that they often speak of which effectively has brought this bunch closer together. This victory hopefully seals the deal for them and helps them revive their 50 over and Test journey back on track. As the stakes and expectations now shoot sky-high, this finals will indeed be a real test of the faith they put in each other to succeed as a team.
After all, ‘What is faith if it doesn’t endure when we are tested the most’