WITH one notable, and understandable, exception, the cricket world's press yesterday welcomed West Indies' victory over Sri Lanka in the ICC World T20 final in Colombo on Sunday.
Reports in newspapers in Sri Lanka reflected disappointment in the host nation which was losing its fourth successive final in ICC World Cups. Elsewhere, the result was seen as a timely boost for West Indies cricket.
There was praise especially for Man-of-the-Match Marlon Samuels and captain Darren Sammy and focus on the team's uninhibited celebrations afterwards.
Every newspaper in the cricket-playing West Indies splashed the triumph over their front pages with pictures of West Indies' team celebrations.
Headlines such as "Never-say-die Windies stun Sri Lanka (Stabroek News, Guyana), "Marlon Samuels switches on power and West Indies surge to triumph" (London Times), "Gangham Style Windies stun Sri Lanka" (Indian Express), "Calypso Kings are back" (Deccan Chronicle, India) and "Calypso in Colombo" (The Independent, London) accompanied reports.
Stephen Brenkley in The Independent, England, wrote that it might be "pushing it a bit to suggest that West Indies erased ten years of pain in a single match last night. But their extraordinary victory…propelled by an equally extraordinary innings from Marlon Samuels, will reignite passion in the Caribbean where supporters had become wearily accustomed to failure, mediocrity, internal bickering and everything that cricket there is supposed not to be about."
Paul Newman and Sambit Lal followed the same theme.
"West Indies, for so long a poor imitation of their illustrious predecessors, brought hope of a long-awaited Caribbean revival with a thrilling victory against all the odds," Newman wrote in the London Daily Mail.
"West Indies cricket has endured such misery in the last two decades that it is impossible to grudge them their joy and certainly no other bunch of cricketers can express it with such panache and style," Lal commented on Cricinfo, the game's biggest website.
Vic Marks, the former England off-spinner, stated in the Guardian that "Sammy's team played with passion, commitment – at one point Chris Gayle sprinted 20 yards at full tilt in an attempt to prevent a second run – and skill".
Chloe Saltau (the Melbourne Age) described the "spontaneous outbreaks of celebratory jiving on the part of the West Indies, who put the fun back into the format that has changed from being frivolous to ultra-scientific".
"They brought calypso to cricket all those years ago. Now they've brought Gangnam style, and it worked wonders for these modern-day West Indies heroes", was how the Johannesburg Star put it .
Samuels' revival after two years serving an ICC suspension for alleged dealings with an Indian bookmaker was widely acknowledged.
"After a decade of promise, the chequered career of Marlon Samuels surged into credit last night with an extraordinary innings of power and nerve that turned the World Twenty20 final on its head and justified the faith placed in his talent and flair," Richard Hobson wrote in the London Times.
"No one celebrates cricket quite like the West Indies, but man of the World Twenty20 final Marlon Samuels must have wondered if he would ever celebrate again," Malcolm Conn stated in the Melbourne Herald-Sun. "It is no wonder then that in one of the most elaborate and unusual team celebrations ever staged after a tournament victory, Samuels was one of the main men."
While most Sri Lankan papers accepted defeat graciously but with disappointment, The Island laid the blame on one man.
Under the headline "Malinga horror brings misery to hosts", it wrote: "The best bowler in the shortest format of the game miserably failed to live up to expectations in the biggest cricketing spectacle Sri Lanka hosted in their history as the host nation choked. Perhaps, the IPL billionaire Lasith Malinga was wearing the wrong blue jersey yesterday".
Malinga, who also wears the blue of his IPL team Mumbai Indians, was taken apart by Samuels, conceding 54 runs from his four overs.