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Superb highs and dismal lows

By Marlon Miller

I SUPPOSE it was asking too much for Trinidad and Tobago to follow up the West Indies' superb triumph by making it into the group stages of the Champions League.

By right, T&T should have been there automatically as Caribbean T20 champs, but the Indian Premier League had already flexed its muscle and bullied its way to getting three teams in, while legitimate national representatives had to go through pre-tournament qualifying.

Alas, Trinidad and Tobago failed to put enough runs on the board against English county Yorkshire—which had been a problem in most of their warm-up games before they went to South Africa—and paid the price, losing by six wickets to hand their opponents their second straight win and the right to play in the lucrative tournament.

Now we will just have to continue to savour the sweet success of the Windies, world champions for the first time in 33 years (I acknowledge the 2004 Champions Trophy, but it does not have "world" in its title).

For those of us lucky enough to have been around in the glory days of the 1970s and 80s, when the West Indies ruled the roost bar none, many would have been wondering when next, if ever, we would scale such heights.

And who would have thought they would do it with one of the most maligned leaders in West Indies cricket history at the helm. True, he had an all-star cast around him, but poor Darren Sammy, who one pundit referred to as the "non-playing captain", has to get some credit for this brilliant victory.

After sneaking through the super eight stage, when any honest onlooker would have to admit that New Zealand blew it more than the Windies won it when their decider came down to a super over, Sammy and his men produced their best performance to whip Australia in the semi-final.

Oh what a happy day that was! As it is anytime you could say you beat the mighty Aussies.

And it wasn't any close encounter that went down to the wire, but a royal licking that will have the team from Down Under shaking their heads in disbelief for a long time to come.

There are those who will say this current Australian squad is nowhere near the quality of those of recent vintage but licks is licks and the West Indies handed it out in emphatic fashion, with almost every man jack coming to the party and putting stick on the Aussies.

With that win alone I would have been happy and satisfied that this was a good outing, but the Windies had bigger fish to fry and despite a lack of sleep I made sure to get up for the first ball Sunday morning.

That didn't look like such a good plan at one wicket down without a run on the board, then two for 14 with Chris Gayle back in the dugout, and at five for 87 it was just a matter of making sure the beers were on the ice and taking a shower before heading to a lime in "Open Range", so as not to suffer the licks alone.

Misery loves company as they say.

But as I got to the new location Ravi Rampaul produced what is being referred to as the "ball of the tournament" and once again it was a matter of hope springs eternal.

There was no letting up from then on, with Sammy ringing the changes and striking a blow almost every time, making the beers taste better and better.

There were still a few moments of doubt, with a couple dropped catches and maybe one questionable decision by Sammy, but it all worked out so wonderfully well in the end, making October 7, 2012 another great day in the history of West Indies cricket.

Unfortunately, with the highs come the lows, not so much the national team's failure to make it through to the business end of the Champions League, but the confirmation that Jack Warner still has his claws in local football and, worse yet, he has a lackey doing his bidding.

It took the budget debate and Opposition Leader Keith Rowley to inform the nation that earlier this year Warner sent a letter to Minister of Sport Anil Roberts recommending "that no support be provided to the Trinidad and Tobago Football Federation".

The Minister claims he is no pawn of Warner, but he waited until the TTFF was going from pillar to post to raise funds to send the Soca Warriors to play in the first round of qualifying for the Caribbean Cup before he announced that money would be provided to the Federation.

But he also took the opportunity to deflect all attention from his cronyism with Warner and attempt to discredit Anthony Harford, whose All Sport Promotions had been overseeing money given to the TTFF since last year.

He may say he is no pawn but Roberts certainly knows about hatchet jobs and Harford joins the company of Hayden Newallo, the former aquatic director of the Amateur Swimming Association of T&T, who was the first to suffer Roberts' poisoned barbs, the Minister going out of his way to discredit people who have the good of sport at heart.

So despite the euphoria of the West Indies' outstanding showing in Sri Lanka, we have to face the harsh reality that Jack Warner and Anil Roberts are the ones who will decide who will get ahead in Trinidad and Tobago's sporting fraternity.

And to hell with who get vex!

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