English commentator and columnist Mark Nicholas apologized Monday for suggesting that World Twenty20 champions West Indies lacked cricketing intelligence.
Following the Caribbean side’s stunning four-wicket win over England in Sunday’s final in Kolkata, a victory sealed when Carlos Brathwaite hit four successive sixes in the last over, victorious West Indies captain Darren Sammy said Nicholas’s remarks had riled his side.
“Mark Nicholas described us as a team with no brains,” said Sammy in an emotional post-match interview.
Sammy was referring to a March 3 column for the ESPNCricinfo website when, looking ahead to the World Twenty20, Nicholas wrote: “West Indies are short of brains but have IPL (Indian Premier League) history in their ranks.”
Nicholas, in his latest Cricinfo column, published Monday, said he offered an “unreserved apology” to Sammy, “a man I hold in the highest regard,” for his “throwaway phrase”.
He added: “Clearly, the West Indies team is not ‘short of brains’.
“I did not say West Indies were ‘brainless’ or had ‘no brains’….but I did say something unworthy of the game and disrespectful to a great cricketing legacy,” explained Nicholas, a television commentator with both England’s Channel Five and Australia’s Channel Nine.
Former Hampshire captain Nicholas played alongside several West Indian greats during his time with the English south coast county, including outstanding pacemen Andy Roberts and Malcolm Marshall.
On Monday, he lauded Roberts, off whom he took his first first-class catch, as the man who “led the thinking of a truly great collection of West Indian fast bowlers”.
“Then I had 13 years with Malcolm Marshall, my best friend in cricket. I also had the privilege of giving the eulogy at his funeral in Barbados — the saddest occasion,” recalled 58-year-old former batsman Nicholas.
Although critical of Nicholas in his post-match interview, all-rounder Sammy was even more scathing regarding the West Indies Cricket Board (WICB), with whom leading players have been locked in a long-running pay dispute, and said they had “disrespected” the team.
Nicholas said he understood the captain’s frustration, writing: “Those of us who have let him down took a hammering. Fair enough too.
“I shall never forget the World T20 final of 2016. Neither will Sammy. I wish him and his men nothing but joy.”