A 'blessing in disguise'
That is how West Indies star Marlon Samuels described his two years away from cricket; a bowling suspension in 2008 followed by a complete ban from the sport for reported match-fixing.
Dishonoured and given very little chance of returning to his promising heights, Samuels returned to the sport with considerable success, pushing his averages in T20 international, one-day internationals and Tests matches to 27.72, 30.70 and 34.97, respectively.
The textbook 31-year-old stroke player was also instrumental in the West Indies' recent triumph at the World T20 Championships in Sri Lanka, scoring 230 runs in his seven innings - the third-highest in the competition, while picking up key wickets.
However, its his two years out of the game that allows Samuels to really appreciate his current successes.
"The two-year ban forced me to reflect on my life and figure out what I really wanted. Those two years worked wonders for me because if I didn't get those two years, perhaps I would still be running around," Samuels told The Gleaner.
"Apart from the unjust side of things, it was a blessing in disguise and I am happy for it. It opened my eyes to many things and drew me closer to my family; I cherish the better things that it brought to my life, such as my kids," Samuels opened up. "Spending quality time with them, taking them to school, I can't get used to that.
"I have a lot more awareness, I am mentally and physically stronger and I have a greater appreciation for things. I value all of this more now. I was just living but now it's a lot more because I have greater responsibility and I don't see myself failing for me and also my kids," said the father of two, before reminiscing on the difficulties faced during this period.
"It was hard to not play anything, not even at the Melbourne level. I saw it as my biggest challenge to test my talent and I knew that I had to work five times harder than every other cricketer, and that is why I am back at the top with a better mindset, because I work harder," Samuels revealed before underscoring that it never crossed his mind to give up on the sport and his professional ambitions.