Emotional West Indies players used their crowning as World Twenty20 champions at Eden Gardens in Kolkata to settle scores and launch a broadside at detractors.
Needing 19 to win off the final over, all-rounder Carlos Brathwaite cracked England’s Ben Stokes for four successive sixes to seal a stunning four-wicket success in a captivating contest.
The recent past of West Indies cricket has been blighted by a series of pay disputes which threatened to boil over and see captain Darren Sammy and his team-mates withdraw from this year’s World Twenty20.
In a tournament preview, pundit Mark Nicholas branded West Indies as a team “short of brains” and Sammy was quick to return fire on his side’s critics and send a message to the West Indies Cricket Board.
“People were wondering whether we would play this tournament. We had a lot of issues, we felt disrespected by our board,” said Sammy. “Mark Nicholas described our team as a team with no brains.
“All these things before the tournament just brought this team together. I really want to thank these 15 men, the ability to just put all those adversities aside and to come out and play this type of cricket in front of such passionate fans, it’s just tremendous.
“I really want to thank the heads of CARICOM [Caribbean Community]. Throughout this tournament they have been supporting the team, we’ve got emails, we’ve got phone calls.
“[Grenada] Prime Minister [Keith] Mitchell sent a very inspiring email for the team this morning and I’m yet to hear from our own cricket board. That is very disappointing.
“For today, I’m going to celebrate with these 15 men and coaching staff. I don’t know when I’m going to be playing with these guys again because we don’t get selected for one-day cricket. We don’t know when we’re going to be playing T20.
“So this win, I want to thank you my team, to thank you coaching staff. Everybody know West Indies are champion.”
Batsman Marlon Samuels was named man of the match for his unbeaten 66-ball knock of 85 and he took the opportunity to reignite his feud with Australia leg-spinner turned commentator Shane Warne, who criticised his semi-final dismissal against India. Samuels and Warne have history.
The duo had an infamous and ugly run-in during a Big Bash clash between Melbourne Renegades and Melbourne Stars in 2013.
“I woke up this morning with one thing on my mind,” said Samuels. “Shane Warne has been talking continuously and all I want to say is ‘this is for Shane Warne’. I answer with the bat, not the mic.”