Best wishes, Marlon Samuels
ON THE BOUNDARY
Sometime ago, in the year 1964, Melbourne Cricket Club left Melbourne Park along Elletson Road, and after passing through Chedwin Park, it settled at the old Chinese Athletic Club, its present home.
Derrymore Road has been good to Melbourne, it has been there for some 48 years now, it has seen presidents like Ivan Heron, Teddy Griffith, Ralph Holding, and George Sterling, and it has included members like Eric Morin and Jimmy Aikman on its roster, and playing members such as Ruddy Marzouca - club captain for most of its years there, and cricket captain Ruddy Williams - 'Mr Cricket' for just a shorter time.
And wearing the Melbourne cap were many others, including Arthur Barrett, Bruce Wellington, Gerald Wollaston, Rudy Cohen, Cecil Lawson, Michael Holding, Sam Morgan, Gerry Reid, Gladstone Robinson. Samuel Francis, Mark Neita, Carlton Carter, senior and junior, Derron Dixon, Colin Fletcher, Steve Gordon, Ordelmo Peters, and Dennis Gordon.
Melbourne members also included boys from around the vicinity - from the club itself, a boy like Ray Stewart, otherwise known as 'Blue', from just up the road, a boy like Junior Hall, and boys from Molynes Road like Kirk Ebanks and Dillon Ebanks.
There was another set of boys, however, and they were from 'across the fence', the southern fence, from 'Nicosia', boys like Courtney Walsh, Carlton 'Wally' Baugh and his sons, Kevin and Carlton Jr, Stafford Duffus, Earle Melbourne, Delroy Jones, Dave Pryce, Richard Evans, Shawn Lodge, the Samuels brothers, Robert, Donovan, David, and Marlon, Shane Ford, and Aubrey Wollaston.
Melbourne, for those who do not know, has produced 45 Jamaica players - 32 since 1964, and 14 West Indies players - nine since 1964, four from across the fence, including one captain, and they have won 23 Senior Cup titles - 15 since 1964, and a host of national one-day titles - including seven straight from 1990 to 1996.
The boys from across the fence include four West Indies players in Walsh, Robert Samuels, Marlon Samuels, and Carlton Baugh, six Jamaican representatives in 'Wally' Baugh, Walsh, Robert Samuels, Marlon Samuels, Ford, and Carlton Baugh Jr, and one West Indies captain in Walsh and two Jamaica captains in Walsh and Robert Samuels.
The greatest boy from across the fence, the Melbourne boy who became a man under the guidance of mostly Marzouca, and the boy who later became president of the club, was Walsh, the one-time world record holder for the number of wickets taken in Test cricket.
The man next in line from among the boys who jumped the fence at Melbourne, the man who once scored a triple century in a Senior Cup match against St Catherine, is Marlon Samuels, one of four brothers, the last of the brothers, the one who followed the twins, and the one rated as the best of them all.
Big brother Robert, now a national coach and a national selector, preceded him in the Kingston College team, in the youth team, in the Melbourne team, in the Jamaica team, and in the West Indies team but he never matched Marlon's accomplishments.
After scoring 60 not out and 41 in his third and fourth innings, Marlon notched his maiden Test century, a memorable 104 versus India in Kolkatta in 2002-03, after 22 innings.
Robert's first and only century, a classy 125 in the second Test against New Zealand in 1995, came in his third innings in Test cricket.
Marlon's first century innings seemed to signal the start of something good for him, but despite hints of things to come, in spite of his 105 versus South Africa in 2007-08, they never came until he was banned from cricket for two years for involvement in match fixing in India.
He denied strongly that he ever took part in match fixing, he continued to deny that he ever took part in match fixing, and he always promised, to those who would listen, that he would return with a bang.
He did return with a bang, scoring 250 in the regional four-day competition in 2011. It was not that year that he really made an impact. It was this year, in 2012.
In England, and with the West Indies on 61 for five at Trent Bridge, he reeled off 117, and in the second innings, with the West Indies falling for 165, he stroked 76 not out.
At Sabina Park, he chastised the New Zealanders with a classy innings of 123 and another of 52, and against Bangladesh, in Bangladesh, he smashed a career high 260 at Khulna.
Samuels has always preferred Test cricket, and nothing pleases him like stroking the Test bowlers to all parts of the field.
He loves blasting the ball, however, and nothing satisfies him like seeing the ball sailing high and far, off any bowler, especially at crucial times of the game, like in the World T20 final when he corned Lasith Malinga and his friends and plundered them for a blistering 78 out of 132 for 6, including three fours and six sixes, and against Bangladesh when he smashed 29 runs in the final over.
Samuels is next to Walsh from across the fence. He has scored five Test centuries and his Test average is 37.36 and rising. He has scored four one-day centuries and his average is 30.84, and his T20 average is 32.44.
As Jamaicans lift their glasses to welcome the New Year, as Jamaicans toast a year in which the West Indies won the World T20 championship, one in which Usain Bolt, Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce and company ran so brilliantly in London, and one in which Nicholas Walters punched so devastatingly to win the WBA featherweight title, as Jamaicans remember Samuels in all his glory, or most of his glory, we wish him good luck for the coming year, and for those to come.
May his runs never run dry wherever he plays and for whom he plays.