Follow The Trace | Six, Six, Six, Six!
The decision by the International Cricket Council to award Carlos Brathwaite's swashbuckling match-winning innings of 34 runs from 10 deliveries, inclusive of four consecutive sixes to end the grand finale in spectacular triumph for the West Indies, as the 2016 Twenty20 Performance of the Year, has stirred up a spritely pre-Christmas debate.
The moot point being, did Brathwaite's innings constitute a better performance than Marlon Samuel's crucial 85 from 66 deliveries? A most timely innings that basically held the then-faltering West Indies batting together, and effectively put Brathwaite in the position to execute his much-heralded heroics.
One school of thought is that Samuels' innings was better, based on the circumstances which dictated a technical repair job, that required great reconciliation between continuing to score at a healthy rate, while holding the innings together; a great balancing act between defence and attack in the most high-pressure circumstances. The Jamaican batting stylist literally set the stage for the victory, meaning his innings was better and more impactful on the result and was, therefore, a better performance.
It's one of those delicate exercises in contextualising and valuing individual performances comparatively in a team sport. But my nod goes unequivocally to Brathwaithe's innings. What Marlon Samuels did was what any high-quality top-order batsman is expected to do in those circumstances. Marlon himself played a very similar title-winning innings in the 2012 World Twenty20 final against Sri Lanka.
The fact of the matter is that that type of innings, as played by Samuels, will more than likely be played many more times in the future. What Carlos Brathwaite did was so unique that it quite likely will never be done again.
Needing 19 runs from the final over and with a world title at stake, the big Barbadian was left with little to do but go for it. But knowing he had to go for it was easy, actually getting it done is what sets that performance apart. It was top-quality execution of the highest order, amid all the intangible pressure moments that come with playing in a big final and doing it from a position where the margin for error was next to none.
Cricket, like all other team sport, is an interdependent activity where one facet of the team depends equally on other aspects of the team in order for the team to function effectively. There is absolutely no doubt that it was Samuels's innings that set up the victory, but it was Brathwaite's innings that won the game.
The Barbadian could easily have been awarded the Man of the Match for that final. He took three wickets for 23 runs from his four overs when the West Indies bowled, before his 34 runs from 10 in the successful run chase. That all-round performance was at least equally deserving of the Man of the Match award. There was, however, not much room in those triumphant moments for complaints about Samuels being awarded the Man of the Match
When all is said and done, though, those four sixes to end the match, and win the title, will represent the most lasting memories for everyone who witnessed that game. In another 20 or 30 years when discussions about great cricketing moments take place, Carlos Brathwaite's super spectacular SIX, SIX, SIX, SIX will be right up there with any other moments on offer, and will probably top the list.