West Indies middle-order batsman Marlon Samuels has taken a calculated swipe at regional cricket selectors.
Samuels, who has been in the form of his life since returning to the regional side, has accused West Indies selectors of not standing behind him in the initial stages of his career.
Samuels, who made his debut for the West Indies against Australia as a 19-year-old back in 2000, told an Indian media house that during the first decade of his career the selectors did not allow him to build on the promise which he showed at that time.
“I will insist that I wasn’t allowed to [live up to my potential],” Samuels said.
“I have had some good runs with the bat in the past too. But the system back home didn’t let me build on them. I wasn’t selected consistently enough.”
Samuels, who led the West Indies batting efforts on the tour of England earlier in the year and also performed outstandingly against New Zealand at home and in the just concluded ICC World T2O competition, said the treatment he is now getting from regional selectors, should have occurred in the formative years of his career.
“They’re trying to back me again since my return. That’s what they should have done back in 2002. Nevertheless, it’s never too late. I am a survivor; a fighter. And once the sun rises from the darkness, the rainbow I see is red, green and gold.”
Samuels only returned to the team in 2011 after being banned for two years in 2008 for, according to ICC charges: “receiving money, or benefit or other reward that could bring him or the game of cricket into disrepute”.
Indian police had accused Samuels of giving out team information to a known bookie prior to the 1st One Day International between the West Indies and India in Nagpur on 21 January 2007.
Police stated at the time that they had taped telephone conversations between a bookmaker, Mukesh Kochchar, and Samuels. The transcript was later released by the police.
In May of that year the International Cricket Council enforced a two-year ban on the then 27-year-old Samuels.Samuels had also been charged by the ICC that he “directly or indirectly…engaged in conduct prejudicial to the interests of the game” but that was dismissed. Samuels maintained his innocence and denied giving any information to a bookmaker.
Before the suspension, his average crossed the 30-mark only in ODIs. In the thirteen Tests since his return, he has averaged 50.25 and has also improved his ODI and Twenty20 averages. He has struck three centuries in all formats since his return.
Samuels admitted that he still carried “a lot of anger” over the two-year ban.
“I carry it with me. It helps to motivate me. It stems from the two years I was away. I’ve had a wonderful run across all three formats since my return,” he said.
“When you see my face on the field, and I look angry, that means I am really focused. I am in my zone then. Once the match is over, I love to have a drink or two and laugh a lot. Chris [Gayle] and I sit around and talk a lot of rubbish. All day long, and all night long. But once I cross the ropes, and get onto the field it’s war,” he said, adding that the bigger change has been of his mindset rather than his game.
“There’s not much I have changed about my cricket. It’s the mindset that has changed. I have had many ups and downs, and I have fought through.
“If I wasn’t strong enough, I would have given up the game a long time back. And now the time is here to express myself in the best way possible. I am playing free cricket and that’s what is helping me now.”
The stylish Jamaican batsman said that he was aware of his responsibilities in the West Indies team and that was to construct a base for the middle-order.
“It’s all about picturing every situation possible on the eve of the match. Good and bad. So that when you face them during the match, you are ready to overcome them. I call it playing the game before it starts.
“Having a daughter was one of the best things that could have happened to me. That’s taught me how precious this life is. But being a senior member of the team has helped immensely,” he said.
Samuels leaves with the West Indies team for a tour of Bangladesh next month. (Cricinfo/WG)