WE must join with our brothers and sisters from the wider Caribbean and the Disapora in commending the West Indies cricket team for making it to the final of yet another global cricket event — the International Cricket Council (ICC) World Twenty/20.
Although the celebrations might be premature at this stage, it would not be a bad idea to start ordering bottles of champagne and ask the fat lady to start clearing her throat, for the West Indies have displayed tremendous fortitude and strength of character during their stay in Sri Lanka.
When the West Indies take the field against the host nation tomorrow, they will carry the weight of a region on their shoulders. A region that has not seen the kind of global success that many know that the cricketers from these parts are capable of achieving.
Cricket in the region has been submerged in turmoil for too long. Claims and counter claims by players and administrators have for the past few years dominated the main reports on mass media. It is only in recent months, with the intervention of some of the Caribbean's political leaders, that there seemed to have been a sobering of emotions.
The drawn-out impasse between the team's leading batsman, Mr Christopher Gayle, on the one hand, and coach Otis Gibson and departed chief executive Dr Ernest Hilaire, has been documented sufficiently and is not worth going over on this page.
What has seemingly emerged from all the 'cass cass' is a willingness to bury differences and move forcefully to have the West Indies team perform as a forceful unit, one that the world will again stand up and applaud.
When the West Indies won the World Cup of Cricket in 1975 and 1979, both times in England, the world was set alight by the dazzling brilliance of some of the game's best at the time; including Mr Clive Lloyd, the captain, Messrs Vivian Richards, Gordon Greenidge, Deryck Murray, and Andy Roberts, among others.
It was no fluke that the Caribbean team repeated the feat of 1975 four years later as the bundle of talent was blended well into a forceful and workable unit that none could test.
Now, there is a glimmer of hope that the talent that abounds among the current crop of players is akin to the 'good old years'. Mr Gayle has demonstrated, on countless occasions, that he is the most exciting cricketer in the limited-over version of the game; and his Man-of-the-Match accolade against Australia in the semi-final again shows the kind of impact that he has on the proceedings.
We are confident that the West Indies can go all the way in lifting the crown. The signs are encouraging. Aggressive batsman Mr Kieron Pollard came good with a blistering batting display that we hope he will take into the final. Bowlers Messrs Sunil Narine, Samuel Badree and Ravi Rampaul are on a roll and all-rounder Mr Marlon Samuels showed what a tremendous asset he is to the team.
While we wish the West Indies all the best, we must spare a thought for the women's team which reached the semi-final of their competition — also being played in Sri Lanka.
It marks the first time that the West Indies women were progressing beyond the preliminary round of the said competition, and it signals that they have gradually stepped forward in their quest to also make their own statement on the international scene.
Whatever the outcome of tomorrow's men's final, we must say, well done West Indies.