RJR Sports Awards Nominee | Sizzling Samuels
Marlon Samuels' performance in the 2016 final of the International Cricket Council World Twenty20 has seen him being nominated for this year's 56th staging of the RJR Sports Foundation National Sportsman of the year award.
Samuels showed once again that he is a man for the big occasion when he turned in a second man-of-the-match performance in an International Cricket Council World Twenty20 final to lead the regional side to the 2016 title.
The 35-year-old Jamaican came to crease two deliveries into the second over, as England had the West Indies at one run for the loss of one wicket and that would soon turn 11 runs for three wickets in pursuit of 156 for victory.
But despite the team's precarious position, Samuels exuded his usual confidence which caught the eye of England's Ben Stokes, who was fielding at mid-off. Stokes began sledging the right-handed batsman and Samuels, not being one to back from a challenge, returned the verbals. But it was his bat that spoke the loudest; cracking nine 4s and two 6s in an unbeaten 85 off 66 deliveries at a strike rate of 128.78, as he was there at the end to witness Carlos Brathwaite hit four consecutive sixes off Stokes in the final over, as the West Indies won by four wickets with two deliveries to spare.
Samuels' tournament winning 85 not out was his highest Twenty20 score of the year, as he averaged 29.25 runs from 11 matches.
In Test cricket he averaged a modest 23 runs from eight matches with a highest of 76 against Pakistan in October.
He, however, starred for the West Indies in One-Day Internationals (ODI) and was the team's best batsman in the tri-nation series versus Australia and South Africa. He scored 374 runs in 10 ODI matches at an average of over 37.40 including his maiden ODI ton against Australia, 125.
Samuels was named West Indies Cricketer of the Year and the One-Day International Cricketer of the Year at the West Indies Cricket Board's annual awards function in July.
It is on the back of these performances that former Jamaican and West Indies cricketer and sports analyst, Maurice Foster, believes Samuels is certainly the most deserving cricketer to be considered for sportsman of the year award.
"If any cricketer was going to be nominated it had to be Marlon (Samuels), who was the most consistent of all the Jamaican players and he was the man-of-match in the final of the World Cup and his innings really allowed the West Indies to win that World Cup," Foster, who is a former sportsman of the year award recipient himself, said.
"The bar for me is very high where Marlon (Samuels) is concerned based on his potential. But nevertheless when you look at the personalities in cricket he stood out more than others despite a really checkered year for him and a lack of consistency; every now and then he played some crucial innings for the West Indies. And the true test of any cricketer is their performance in Test cricket or in a final."
Foster further reasoned that it is Samuels' personality that allowed him to thrive in adverse situations, such as in the final against England when he had a confrontation with Stokes and in making his highest score of the year against Australia; a team he has had a bit of history with.
"Animosity between teams sometimes motivates you and maybe Marlon was motivated by the fact that he was playing England and them themselves are sledging and making comments about him when he goes to the middle and therefore you have to get the upper hand," Foster reasoned. "So he probably concentrated a little bit more and was a little bit more determined to perform and also against the Australians, who introduced sledging to cricket and sometimes take it to a level that I believe is not in the realms of sportsmanship."
Foster added: "He could be a bit more motivated when he is playing against England or Australia and wants to do well against them because of the comments and the personalities on the field that he really doesn't have that kind of friendly rapport with."
Chris Gayle was the last cricketer to cop the coveted Jamaica Sportsman of the Year award winning back in 2010. Besides Gayle; the other cricketers to have won the award are Jackie Hendricks (1966), Lawrence Rowe (1972, 1974), Maurice Foster (1973), Jeffrey Dujon (1988), Patrick Patterson (1991), James Adams (1994), and Courtney Walsh (1998, 1999, 2000).
The RJR Sports Foundation is for the 56th year honouring outstanding achievements in sports by professional or amateur Jamaican athletes who have represented the country in an internationally recognised sporting competition between January 1st and December 31st of each year.
The award ceremony is slated to take place at the Jamaica Pegasus Hotel on January 13, 2017.