KOLKATA • The bitter divisions in Caribbean cricket were laid bare on Sunday, as the West Indies board publicly reprimanded captain Darren Sammy just hours after his team's stunning victory in the World T20 final over England.
It should have been a day of unalloyed joy for the West Indies in West Bengal, India, with the women's team winning their Twenty20 final against Australia on the same Eden Gardens ground where the men later downed England by four wickets in a last-over thriller.
But, in a post-match interview, Sammy gave vent to months - possibly years - of frustration with the West Indies Cricket Board (WICB).
In a reference to the lengthy and bitter pay dispute that had put their World Twenty20 participation in doubt, the all-rounder said his team felt "disrespected by our board".
"We had a new manager in Rawle Lewis, who has never managed a team before. We had no uniforms, no printing," said Sammy. "The trouble he went through to just get us in this uniform. I got to give credit to the entire team here."
Sammy also had another swipe at the board as he thanked Grenada Prime Minister Keith Mitchell for a good-luck message received hours before the final. "I really want to thank him. He sent a very inspiring message and I'm yet to hear from our own board. That's very disappointing," added the 32-year-old.
Several hours later, in a statement curiously headlined "WICB president has high praises for World Twenty20 organisers", from the board's Antigua headquarters, the sting came lower down.
"The president would like to apologise for what could be deemed inappropriate comments made by captain Darren Sammy and would like to apologise on behalf of the WICB to the millions of fans who witnessed (sic). The president has pledged to enquire the reason and will have the matter addressed."
WICB president Whycliffe Cameron had already appeared to take offence at Sammy's remarks by tweeting: "When is the last time a critic paid one of your bills? Always remember that when you start to give them your energy."
In the final, the West Indies were brilliant, with Marlon Samuels anchoring their run chase of 156 with an unbeaten 85, after England had posted 155 for 9 in their 20 overs.
The West Indies went into the last over needing an unlikely 19 against the bowling of Ben Stokes. And Carlos Brathwaite produced a thrilling finale, hitting four consecutive sixes to lift them to a win with two balls to spare.
In the process, the Caribbean islanders became the first team to win two World T20 crowns. But they also took the opportunity to settle some scores.
Samuels, sitting with his feet on the table - pads still on - at the post-match press conference, used abusive and offensive language towards Stokes for which he was fined 30 per cent of his match fee. The two have had altercations on the field in the past.
He then dedicated his Man of the Match award to former Australian great Shane Warne, who, as a commentator, was less than complimentary about the Jamaican during the tournament. The pair were involved in an altercation during a game in Australia in 2012-13.
"Shane Warne has a problem with me. I don't know what - I've never disrespected him," said Samuels. "I don't appreciate the way he continues to talk about me. I don't know - maybe it's because my face is real and his face is not."
Sammy also took aim at English pundit Mark Nicholas, who had written before the final for Cricinfo that West Indies were "short of brains".
"I'm done with Mark," said a clearly riled Sammy. "The disrespect from journalists... that was out of order. The only way we could make a statement was by winning this tournament."
Nicholas yesterday apologised "for the throwaway phrase".
During the match, England's David Willey and Joe Root were also involved in confrontations with the West Indies players.
It will be interesting to see if there are any ramifications regarding the behaviour on show during the final. Still, these unsavoury moments should not detract from a once-in-a-lifetime match.
AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, THE GUARDIAN