In the midst of West Indies’ resurrection, the cricketing world saw another – that of Marlon Samuels. While the entire side was crumbling under a very adept Sri Lankan attack, there was one man who held it together for the West Indies; Samuels perhaps played the innings of a lifetime and at the most opportune time possible – a World Cup final.
Samuels made his debut back in 2000, at a time when West Indian cricket was in the midst of an enervating wane; there seemed no hope. He provided hope and displayed potential when he scored his maiden Test and ODI centuries on West Indies’ tour to India in 2002. His centuries had more significance than just numbers; his Test century helped his team avoid a whitewash and the ODI century helped the West Indies win an ODI series.
Following that, expectations from him and reputation were appraised based on that tour and the contributions he made. However, that was the time the dark times were setting in – for him and for West Indian cricket. In 2008, the ICC suspended him for suspect bowling action. Shortly after, he was accused of accepting money from a bookie and was banned for 2 years from cricket. With that, it seemed like the end of what could have been a great career for the Jamaican.
When Samuels came into the international circuit, he didn’t gain too many fans because of his lazy, slack, offhand and juvenile attitude with no real sense of team unity. The reformed one however, is the opposite pole – he values his wicket, plays in accordance with the situation of the game, handles the situation with attentive contemplation and one who is consistent. The tour of England earlier in the year only validated that for Samuels as he gathered a century along with two half-centuries and followed that up with consistent contributions against New Zealand.
Since Samuels’ return in 2011, there has been furtherance in his performances. Before his ban in 2008, he had scored 1408 runs in 53 innings in Test matches at an average of 28.73. In the shorter format (ODIs), he scored 2513 runs in 107 matches, at an average of 30.28 with 2 centuries in both formats respectively.
After his return to international cricket in 2010, he has scored 1005 runs in 22 innings at an average of 50.25. In ODIs, he has scored 772 runs in 30 matches averaging 32.16 and in T20s, 368 runs in 16 games averaging a whopping 30.67 – which is a reflection of his consistency in recent times.
He has gone all-out to prove himself worthy in pressure situations and has thrived in them. This is particularly evident in the WorldT20 beginning from the league games. In the group stage game against Australia, he notched up an aggressive 50. In the Super 8s, he bowled the last over against the Kiwis which helped the Windies to tie the game. He also bowled the Super Over which restricted the Kiwis to a gettable total. In another Super 8 game against Sri Lanka, he was the only one to have stood up against the opposition to score a 50, while the others fell like pins around him. Against Australia in the semi-final, he took on the bowling and laid out the perfect launch pad for his team to capitalize on.
In the finals, he was the lone warrior whose innings made the difference between a loss and the victory for the West Indies. Whether it is determination, self-will or a brilliant team atmosphere that has aided him to thrive, is unknown; whatever the reason, it has only done a world of good for the West Indies and Samuels himself. Here’s to the resurgence of a great cricketing talent and a spirited team who I hope will pave the path to countless glories.