Darren Sammy jumps in joy during the West Indies’ win against Australia after hitting the deciding six © Getty Images
By Gaurav Joshi
It is not often the winning captain strides in to the press conference with his pads still on with journalists showing their appreciation with generous applause. Darren Sammy was excited, relieved, delighted but he spoke in the same tone as he did only 24 hours ago when he first heard about James Faulkner’s brash comment of his team being disliked by the Australian all-rounder.
In fact, he even managed to credit Faulkner’s last over stating “He did bowl some very good yorkers.” There was such much humility in the man. Even in the pre-match press conference, he decided not to fight fire with fire, instead just reminded the Australians what had happened the last time the two teams had met in a crucial knockout match in T20 cricket. [West Indies had defeated Australia in the semi-final of the ICC World T20 2012 in Sri Lanka].
Sammy stated the game of cricket is all about the action in the middle and refused to use the Faulkner comment as a significant motivation. “No we didn’t talk about all the statements as extra motivation. Like I said, we don’t TALK, cricket is played out in the middle, that is what we were focused on.”
Even in the team meeting before the match, the West Indies had conjured up the plan to put Australia under pressure as they felt Australia were vulnerable to pressure.
“We discussed how we are going to play them, we were going to come hard at them, we knew we had to out them under pressure, when the pressure is on them they don’t respond that well and that is why Gayle from the 1st over went after Starc and that is the pressure we were talking.”
The plan certainly worked and it definitely seemed to wake the ‘sleeping giant’, Chris Gayle. The belligerent left hander had been subdued in the first two matches scoring at strike rate of 100, but on Friday, he hit Mitchell Starc for four consecutive fours and then carted Doug Bollinger over the ropes to put the Australian under pressure.
While Australia fought back during the middle stages, the West Indian skipper kept his nerve in the final over against the public enemy number one, Faulkner to land the knockout blow.
What followed was what only the West Indians do best, dance their way into madness. As Sammy said “It was all our passion rather than celebrations and it just came out and it feels great to beat the Australians”
As he said only a day ago, “Faulker must be the only person not to like the West Indies because we are everyone second favourite team”. Even Faulker might have to agree with him this time around.
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(Gaurav Joshi is an Indian-born Australian who played with Michael Clarke in his junior days. He coaches and reports for a Sydney radio station. Over the years he has freelanced for Australia Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) and is a regular on ABC cricket show Cow Corner. He is the author of the book “Teen Thunder Down Under” – The inside story of India’s 2012 U19 World Cup Triumph)