Samuels bounces back

Jamaica’s cricket coach and former
West Indies coach Gus Logie remained cautious on the omission of talented
batsman Marlon Samuels from the West Indies team for the International Cricket
Council Cricket World Cup later this month.

“No, I don’t want to go down that
road. We’re just focusing on what we have right now,” the Trinidad and Tobago
native said. “The players know very well that certain things are out of their
hands and we’re just going to control what we can control and all we ask Marlon
to continue to do is keep his feet on the ground and continue to produce those
big scores.”

Samuels, who turned 30 earlier this
month, made his return to international cricket after a two-year ban and has
shown good form in both the Twenty/20 and four-day versions of the game.

The ICC World Cup bowls off on
Saturday and Samuels – whose ban was lifted last May – has had some good scores
in the CaribbeanT20 competition in January.

The Jamaican stylist was the
backbone of the team’s quest for victory but which ended at the semi-final
stage against champions Trinidad and Tobago. Samuels averaged 63 following
scores of 42, 80 not out, 45 not out, 53, 14 and 19 in the competition.

The West Indies team was named in
January and Samuels was not included, hence his return to the West Indies fold
has been delayed. He claimed he is not ready for a return to the West Indies
and just wants to play some more.

And play some more he did. The
Guyana game was his first four-day match after a two-year ban for inappropriate
links to an Indian bookmaker.

Samuels announced himself to the
West Indies selectors with a timely reminder of his talent with a masterful 250
not out two weeks ago.

The right-hander reeled off a
superb double hundred at Alpart Sports Club as the hosts piled up an impressive
391 for four declared in their second innings, after trailing by 33 on first
innings. Jamaica were bundled out for a paltry 150 in their first innings.

Samuels raised his second regional
first-class century and his seventh first-class ton overall, hitting 22 fours
and seven sixes, in an innings that required 320 balls and lasted seven hours
and 11 minutes.

He made his Test debut in Australia
in 2000 as a 19-year-old who was yet to represent Jamaica at the senior level.
He later scored his first Test ton (104) against India in 2002 in the drawn
third Test.

His first One-Day International ton
came in the series which followed and turned out to be a series-winning
innings. With the series level at 3-3 entering the final match at Vijayawada in
2002, he hit 108 not out off just 75 balls as the West Indies finished with 315
and went on to win by 135 runs.

Samuels scored his highest
first-class score in 2005 – an innings of 257 in a tour match against the
Australians at the ‘Gabba’. His promising career was then halted after Indian
police accused him of giving out team information to a well-known bookie prior
to the first ODI between the West Indies and India in Nagpur four years ago.

It is claimed that they have taped
telephone conversations between a bookmaker, Mukesh Kochchar and Samuels. The
transcript was later released by the police.

After a hearing into the matter,
the ruling ICC enforced a mandatory ban on the 27-year-old, backdated from
2008. He was subsequently found guilty of breaking rules designed to stop
players betting on matches. Samuels has always maintained his innocence.

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