Tony Becca: West Indians are smiling, but ...
Back in 1950 when the West Indies defeated England in England to win their first Test series in England, West Indian eyes were smiling.
They were on the way.
Back in the late 1970s, 1980s and early 1990s, when the West Indies won the World Cup twice and dominated Test cricket, West Indian eyes smiled even brighter.
They were kings of the world.
Today, in 2016, after winning the Youth World Cup, and the women's World Cup and the World Twenty20 in Kolkata last Sunday, West Indian eyes are not only smiling, but their hearts are bursting with joy, satisfaction and pride.
Winners of the titles, the West Indies, are the triple champions of the world, and deservedly so.
In winning the Youth title for the first time, and convincingly at that, the little West Indians probably surprised even themselves. In winning the title, also for the first time, the women probably also surprised themselves. And in winning the title, the men beat off the challenge of seven worthwhile challengers, and especially the last one, brilliantly and commandingly.
The West Indies won the Youth title with three deliveries to spare; the women won the title with three deliveries to spare; and the men won the title in fairy-tale fashion with only two deliveries to spare.
The men's victory was especially amazing. From the start, they looked confident and superior. They played as if they could not lose and did not know how to lose, while England, especially at the start, looked petrified.
Their explosive batting gave them the look of invincibility.
After reeling at 11 for three, the West Indies needed 19 runs off the final over, and with almost every cricket fan around the world at that stage backing the bowling team to win, Carlos Brathwaite promptly and commandingly smashed the first four deliveries into the stands for four sixes to leave Ben Stokes, England's champion 'death' bowler up to that moment, on his knees, clasping his head, crying and shell-shocked.
Last Sunday was a glorious day and night, and the West Indians playing in the Eden Gardens and visiting Kolkata made it a memorable one with their celebration, their dancing and their running around in jubilation.
Samuel Badree and his baffling right-arm leg-spin started it off by bowling Jason Roy with his second delivery.
After the West Indies stumble, Marlon Samuels steadied the ship with some solid and magnificent stroke play, and Brathwaite finished it off with his magical, thumping hitting at the end.
It was so good that I wished I was there.
Cricket is cricket, triple champions of the world sounds good and, as president of the West Indies Cricket Board Dave Cameron said before last Sunday's final, West Indies cricket is rising.
Is West Indies cricket really rising, however? Is West Indies cricket really rising because the West Indies teams have won three titles behind one another?
Many people, including myself, would say no, and we would say no because of what is happening, or not happening, in West Indies cricket.
First off, this team, which includes some of the biggest and most destructive hitters in the game, consists of players who no longer play cricket in the West Indies, players who, before every event, quarrel over money, and players who, rightly or wrongly, are termed mercenaries by many of the people.
Second, although regional cricket is now professional and is played on a return basis, the standard generally is still poor, so poor that hardly anyone watches it.
Third, and certainly in the case of Jamaica and Guyana, there is hardly any local cricket for women, at least no regular competition to make a difference in the interest of young girls and the development of standards.
Fourth, the board, the players' association and the players are always at war and with the situation as it is and with the public getting caught up in it, the atmosphere is bad and it affects the progress of the game.
The local businesses and their money stay as far away from the cricket as is possible.
The rift between the board, and the players and the players' association is such that there is only one player on the team who is a member of the players' association.
WASHING DIRTY LAUNDRY
Indeed, the rift is so huge that on Sunday in the Eden Gardens, after the final, before a large live audience and for millions of people to hear, at a time when the West Indies should be celebrating, captain Darren Sammy used the occasion to reel off all the problems between the players and the board.
It was nothing more than washing their dirty linen in public, and Sammy's remarks against the board were as poor as Samuels' when he opened up against Shane Warne.
There is a time and place for everything, and Sunday in Kolkata was neither the time nor the place to try and embarrass the West Indies board and a former player.
It was totally uncalled for and, in both instances, totally unexpected.
The attacks came from way out in left field and they probably came across as unfortunate because Sammy, despite his failure with the bat and with the ball, was so good throughout the tournament as the captain of the team, and Samuels, despite his batting disappointment up to then, was so brilliant, so majestic in the all-important final cup-winning match.
Something must be done about the board, the players' association and the senior players, otherwise everything will self-destruct.
Congrats again to Shimron Hetmyer and to Alzarri Joseph and company, to Stafanie Taylor, Hayley Matthews, Britany Cooper, Anisa Mohammad, Deandra Dottin, Merissa Aguilliera and company, to Badree, Samuels, Brathwaite, Russell, Lendl Simmons, Gayle, Bravo and company on a job well done.
It was a day to remember and, although there is a lot more to be done for West Indies cricket to really flower once again, a day to cherish.