For someone, who always preferred cricket over academics, it’s probably a fitting reward that Marlon Samuels stole the limelight in West Indies’ historic triumph in the World T20 final against Sri Lanka on Sunday. It also helped him emerge from the shadows of a rather controversial career.
Samuels smashed 78 off 56 balls to help West Indies score a modest 137-6 after they elect to bat and were reduced to 32-2 off the first 10 overs. The Jamaican then restricted the hosts with his tidy off-spinners, taking 1-15 off four steady overs, as Sri Lanka were shot out for 101 in front of the packed Premadasa crowd in Colombo.
Samuels has endured a turbulent 12-year career since his debut in 2000, having seen his bowling action being questioned and then facing a two-year suspension in 2008 for his alleged links with bookmakers. The two-year ban ended in May 2010 but Samuels’ next assignment with the national team came only around a year later, during the Pakistan series at home in April 2011.
The following year he played for Pune Warriors India (PWI) in the Indian Premier League’s fifth edition, and despite skipper Sourav Ganguly’s side having finished last in the tournament, Samuels had a reasonably good outing scoring 124 runs in eight matches with eight wickets for 216. Controversy however had not seen the back of Samuels yet. During the tournament, he was once again reported for suspect action and consequently suspended from bowling in the remainder of the tournament.
Pune Warriors India’s assistant coach Praveen Amre said positive thinking helped the talented West Indian all-rounder ride through the testing times. “The two-year gap made Samuels a very strong character. He is desperate to make up for lost time. It made him more determined. The team (PWI) was not doing well, but Samuels always remained very positive,” Amre told MiD DAY yesterday.
Keen to do well
Recalled an incident that explained how keen Samuels was to perform, Amre said: “It so happened that he had only arrived the previous night before one of our matches but was absolutely ready to play the next day. He did not want any rest or anything. He was just so eager to play. He wanted to make the most of the opportunity. It was evident that he had worked very hard during his two-year ban.”
Samuels gave a glimpse of the pain he may have been through during the two-year ban while speaking at Sunday’s post-match conference. “Being under pressure on a cricket field is nothing compared to what I’ve been through off the field. As my mentor always said to me, everything that happened to me in life is because I’m important. I’m not someone that will ever give up. I never say die,” he said after his final heroics.