Marlon Samuels excited about home Test in Jamaica
Samuels called for the inclusion of West Indies Under-19 star Alzarri Joseph for the second Test which begins on Saturday.
Speaking as the West Indies team representative at the pre-match press conference on the eve of the second Test which begins at his home stadium in Jamaica, Marlon Samuels said that nothing would please him more than making a big score which helps his side equalise the series at 1-1 following West Indies’ defeat by an innings and 92 runs in the Antigua Test against India.
Not hiding his excitement at the prospect of playing in front of his own fans, Samuels is hopeful that the Jamaica Test turns out to be a memorable one – personally as well as for the whole West Indies side.
“It is a great opportunity for me. Not too many sportsmen get to play in front of their home crowd. I think I've got the opportunity more than one time, so I cherish it - playing in front of a Jamaican crowd. As I said, it's a great opportunity, not only for me but for the team to make a turnaround and come here and play some positive cricket and put up not just a challenge but a fight,” Samuels said.
“The most important thing is to win in front of your home crowd and playing in a unit, and that's the ultimate goal for me. Personal achievement is definitely coming out here and showing my Jamaican people what they have been seeing over the years - me coming out here, playing shots and just enjoying myself in the middle and I'm sure that will make a lot of people happy as well,” he added.
As a senior member of the side, Samuels has been under a great deal of pressure to carry the burden of the batting department on his shoulders. The 35-year-old admitted that he does feel the stress of it sometimes but the outspoken cricketer also made it clear that it was the whole team’s responsibility to rise to the demands of the game and make themselves accountable.
“Well, first and foremost, I'm not going to be here to tell you that it's a young team. For me to say that is like finding excuses for the team. It's a Test team, and Test cricket is big-man cricket, and the players should know that by now. They are here, playing Test cricket. So we all have to step up to the plate, and put up a very good challenge against the Indians,” Samuels said.
“To be honest, it's a lot of pressure. I have to actually bat through the innings because I'm playing a role where I'm batting at four. I have to dominate and know, when we lose a wicket, that I need to tone it down. But nevertheless, whenever I get the opportunity to talk in a team meeting, trying to just encourage the younger players to go out there... we need to look at not just senior players doing their job, but for them [youngsters] to come and do the job as well. Because, at the end of the day, they're going to be the senior players as well.”
Samuels admitted that the hosts will have their work cut out against Virat Kohli’s side if they want to make a comeback in the four-match Test series.
“The Indians are a very good team, a very good unit, so what we want to try and do, to build right now, is a team spirit, and build a stronger unit in order [to move forward]. Yes, we have new players coming in, but they still have to deliver. At the end of the day, you have to to keep your job here,” he said.
West Indies as a whole and Samuels, in particular, has been in pretty good nick in the shorter formats of the game, most notably winning the 2016 World T20 held in India with Samuels putting in a Man-of-the-Match winning performance. He followed it up with a match-winning knock against World Champions Australia in the ODI tri-series held in the Carribean also featuring South Africa.
Samuels admitted that it was high time he started performing more consistently as a Test batsman as well.
“You make a half-century, it's a milestone. You have to cherish it, but at the end of the day, I always want more. I haven't been getting the runs that I'm looking for in the Test arena, but I've been making up in the shorter versions, so it augurs well that I'm doing well for the team as well in the next versions. It's just, I need to start focusing more and putting in some big performances, so the team can benefit from it,” he said.
Samuels is certain that West Indies that make a strong comeback in the series despite the heavy loss at Antigua and made a call for the inclusion of Alzarri Joseph - the hero of West Indies triumph at the Under-19 World Cup earlier this year.
“West Indies more than have it in them. They have pride, and as I said, it's a job. If you don't do your job well, you're not going to be around here," he said. “I would definitely play him (Alzarri Joseph). He's Fit, fast and fearless. When are you going to play him, at 25? He's 19 now, it's the best time to just let him go and enjoy himself and express himself.”