World Twenty20: Flamboyant final party in prospect

  • @stephenbrenkley

For neutral observers it is all but impossible to select which side they want to become World Twenty20 champions tonight. Sri Lanka, the hosts, and West Indies, the pre-tournament favourites, both have a lot going for them.

Their two captains, Mahela Jayawardene and Darren Sammy, are two of the nicest men around, and the teams play the game in flamboyant but contrasting manners.

Sri Lanka deserve victory on home soil. It is their fourth final in five years after the two most recent 50-over World Cups and the 2009 Twenty20. In all of the previous three they have been pretty well beaten, and to win in front of a fervent home support would be a marvellous triumph for players over bungling officials.

Jayawardene, who agreed to take over the captaincy for the second time a year ago, has reinvented himself as a glorious T20 player and fashioned a team of knowing, fearless young experts who would follow him to the ends of the earth.

West Indies deserve to win because they have somehow managed to keep going after falling so far. Under Sammy, a captain who is barely worth his place in the team as a player, they have responded.

They have found Twenty20 to their liking because it agrees with their swashbuckling style, and victory would lift the game in the Caribbean in a way not seen for 15 years.

Clive Lloyd, the captain and architect of West Indies' rise to world dominance in the Seventies, sent the team a message yesterday to wish them well. "Remember," it said, "success comes before work only in the dictionary."

Whoever wins, it'll be some party.