Save for those team members who have stayed back in India to play in the IPL T20 tournament starting Saturday, homecoming for all other members of the West Indies men and women World T20 champion teams can be described as sweet for some and bitter for one.
Men’s team captain Darren Sammy and his fellow St Lucian’ team member Johnson Charles were the toasts of a welcome home reception yesterday at which the island’s Prime Minister Dr Kenny Anthony announced plots of land for north and the renaming of the Beausejour Cricket Stadium Ground in Sammy’s honour and a stand also renamed in tribute to Charles.
Today the Trinidad and Tobago Ministry of Sport is leading the reception for TT women players Merisa Aguillera, Britney Cooper, Anisa Mohammed, Stacey Ann King and officials Ann John Bown, Oba Gulston and Donald La Guerre.
Men’s team champions spinner Samuel Badree returned last night, asked he Sport Ministry to to be excused from celebrations and now will be celebrated at a reception for the TT players and staff at the Hyatt tomorrow.
Barbados members of the teams also had a rousing welcome home party yesterday.
But while there was joy and recall of West Indies teams dual success, captain Sammy was under the radar again for comments he made in Sunday’s post-final interview
The vice-president of the West Indies Cricket Board (WICB), Emmanuel Nanthan, yesterday launched a major broadside against Sammy 48 hours after he led West Indies into the history books by becoming the first team to capture the T20 World Cup twice.
Nanton has blasted as “irrelevant, demeaning, insulting, and unfortunate” comments made by Sammy minutes after West Indies pulled off the stunning four-wicket victory over England to seal the title.
Sammy courted controversy when he hit out at the WICB for its lack of support and praised Prime Minister of Grenada Dr Keith Mitchell and CARICOM for messages of support, which inspired his team.
“So to try to make it look like the board was inefficient in any way is rather unfortunate,” declared Nanton in a radio interview in Dominica.
“To spoil what was a tremendous achievement for the Caribbean civilisation with comments that are totally irrelevant and demeaning and insulting to the Caribbean people I believe was rather unfortunate”.
Sammy’s comments were also made against the backdrop of the players’ contracts dispute with the WICB before the start of the tournament back in February, which threatened the side’s participation.
Sammy acted as the players’ representative during the brief impasse.
The WICB vice-president also took issue with the players for complaining about a reduction in their fee structure for the World Cup while not disclosing increases in fees for the regional competition.
“So the players complained that for the World Cup, their fees went down maybe by US$20,000 or thereabout. But they did not say that the week before they got the World Cup contract, all of them signed contracts for the regional competition, where their fees went up by US$80,000, $140,000, $145,000, and $75,000. They did not say that,” said Nanthan.
“But they are saying that they had a loss of US$20,000 each on the World Cup. The World Cup is every other year. Our regional competition is every year. So really and truly, they were
making noise for losing $20,000 on one side but gaining $150,000 or $280,000 in some instances on the other hand and never ever said that to anybody.”
On Sunday, Sammy also praised newly installed manager Rawl Lewis, who, he said, went to extraordinary lengths to solve a uniform problem during the pre-tournament camp in Dubai.
But Nanthan has dismissed Sammy’s comments on this issue as misleading, blaming the impasse for the delay in printing numbers on the uniforms.
“The date was coming. The players had not consented to go to play, so the company delivered the uniforms without the numbers in them because we were not sure which players we going to play,” he said.
“So when the logistics officer left the Caribbean for Dubai, he had a ticket in his hands to go to pick up the uniforms in Calcutta, put the numbers on them, and carry them himself to the team well before the World Cup.”
Earlier, the WICB, in a release, had described Sammy’s comments as “inappropriate” and promised an investigation with a view to taking necessary action.
Nanthan’s comments are likely to fuel more tension between the champion West Indies side, which has garnered massive support in the region, and an embattled Dave Cameron-led WIC.
Meanwhile Former West Indies captain and one of the two living national heroes in Antigua & Barbuda, Sir Vivian Richards has called for the resignation of those charged with administering cricket at the West Indies Cricket Board (WICB) level.
The batting legend, who captained the West Indies in 50 Test matches from 1984 to 1991, made the call after triumphant T20 skipper, Darren Sammy, took aim at the WICB over their lack of support for the team during the recent tournament in India.
“I don’t think Sammy would be a liar; I think Sammy is as honest as they come so it is going to be quite interesting, going forward, to see and to hear exactly what comes from the board,” he said.
The West Indies went into the last over against England on Sunday needing an unlikely 19 against the bowling of Ben Stokes.
Carlos Brathwaite hit four consecutive sixes as the West Indies became the first team to win the World Twenty20 Championship twice.
But the victory over England at Eden Gardens was marred when a long-running spat between players and the board erupted into public when Sammy vented months — possibly years — of frustration with the West Indies Cricket Board (WICB) in a post-match interview.
Referring to a lengthy and bitter pay dispute that had put their World Twenty20 participation in doubt, the all-rounder said his team felt “disrespected by our board”.
Sir Viv commended Sammy for his bravery.
“Sammy did what he had to do. It was on his mind and you could see what he said meant a lot; it came from the heart. In my mind, it looked like something planned. Anyone who knows Darren Sammy knows that he is an individual and how he would have led West Indies cricket from his very start as captain, and sees how committed he is. So I am pleased, in a big way, that he was able to get it off his chest,” Sir Viv said.
Signalling the victory as a possible resuscitator for West Indies cricket, the legendary player urged those in authority to seize the opportunity provided to unearth new talents.
“There are some hungry folks out there and especially with the excitement with what would have been created from the three versions like the Under-19, the women’s factor then the men doing what they did on Sunday. The interest would certainly be there, so we need to try and get into some areas where we haven’t tapped before to try and find some of these fast bowlers that maybe, can help to make a difference in the future. I don’t think enough of that would have been done in the past,” the former player said.B, which is coming under mounting public pressure to step down.