Resurgent Samuels relishes new-found consistency

Resurgent Samuels relishes new-found consistency

Marlon Samuels is to present-day West Indian cricket what Rahul Dravid was to Indian team for over a decade.

Of course, there is no comparison between the two with the Indian batsman having retired as one of the all-time greats. Samuels, at 32, is still some distance away from realising his full potential, although there has been some consistency in his performance in the last two years. In a team of big-hitting stars, Samuels has slowly been settling into an anchor’s role to help his fellow batsmen play their natural game, just as Dravid facilitated some of his contemporaries to bat freely with his impregnable presence at the other end.

Understandably, the stroke-makers hogged all the limelight even as Dravid’s hard work went without being noticed as much. Dravid didn’t complain then, not does Samuels now. Taking responsibility came naturally to Dravid whereas Samuels had to go through several ups and downs to appreciate what he has got.

Considered arrogant and indisciplined at various stages of his early international career, Samuels hit the nadir when he was banned for two years for his suspected links with bookies. Easily one of the most talented batsmen to come from the Caribbean, the one who even drew comparisons with Viv Richards, the Jamaican could have so easily been lost to West Indian cricket but better sense prevailed upon him before it was too late.

“To be honest, for the last two years, being out and coming back and playing have created a lot of responsibility around me outside of cricket,” points out the right-hander. He feels the responsibility of taking care of his family, which includes his wife, two children and at least a dozen dogs, has percolated into his cricket as well. “... So going out there and playing the role that I’m playing right now, I find it much easier because off the field I have greater responsibility. Of kids, dogs – you have to feed them; they can’t feed themselves. I am taking care of my entire family. I can’t afford to fail because I’m basically the breadwinner. For me to come out here and play the anchor role for the team, the entire Caribbean, I really enjoy it,” he offers.

Samuels loves the big stage and loves to perform there. But since his international debut in 2000 as a precocious 20-year-old, he has been more out than in the side. Having finally found a firm footing in the team now, Samuels doesn’t want to let it go so easily. A performance befitting his talent finally arrived when he played the match-winning innings -- a 56-ball 78 -- against Sri Lanka in the final of the World T20 last year, ending West Indies’ long wait for a world title. “You can see I’m scoring a lot of international runs,” he says talking about his good outings in the last one year. “I enjoy and I love international cricket. I’ve made it my home now. Whenever I play international cricket, I’m very comfortable. It’s about finding yourself. Back then I was in and out but now I’m playing consistently, so you look forward to scoring runs consistently.

“I’m batting four, so I’ve been carrying a lot of load for the team. I’ll definitely continue to play that role and take a lot of responsibility. I’ve been playing the anchor role; I don’t mind that. I have to bat through the innings. Whether I have to speed it up or slow it down depends on the situation. A lot if it is a thinking process. At the moment mine is the anchor role so I have to bat through but I can make up for it at the end. There are still a lot of shots that I can play at the end,” he explains with a quiet confidence.

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