EDITORIAL - A new Marlon Samuels?
It is perhaps paradoxical that we should hail Marlon Samuels for turning down an offer to play for the West Indies at the Cricket World Cup.
But the grace with which he declined the opportunity, and the reason he gave for the decision, suggest an emerging maturity on the part of the cricketer that will be of value to his personal rehabilitation and, ultimately, West Indies cricket.
That is assuming Samuels' decision was not influenced by fears of legal or other considerations.
When he entered the West Indies team nearly 11 years ago, Marlon Samuels was clearly a batsman of prodigious talent although, like most of his generation, he didn't have to do much for his selection. That talent, though, was displayed mostly in cameos.
In 29 Tests, he averages a mere 28.1, while his return from 107 one-day internationals is 30.27.
There was a sense that Samuels was unbothered by his own underperformance. His demeanour suggested the arrogance of talent, even unfulfilled, when surrounded by mediocrity.
Then, in 2008, Samuels was suspended from cricket for two years for feeding information to a bookie during a West Indies tour of India the previous year. That suspension expired in 2010.
The current season is Samuels' first full one back in cricket. At 30, he is batting like a man renewed.
Following on his strong performance in the regional Twenty20 championship, Samuels has scored three centuries and one half-century in six innings in the regional four-day competition.
When he was not selected in the team for the World Cup, Samuels declared himself not disappointed. He was not, he said, as yet prepared for cricket at the highest level. The regional competition would be a building block.
Injury to all-rounder Dwayne Bravo caused the selectors to attempt to draft Samuels into the team. Samuels publicly thanked the selectors for their consideration but said 'no, thanks'.
"... I still don't think I am 100 per cent ready, and I want to be honest with myself," he said. "I hope the selectors understand and respect my decision."
This newspaper does.
His statement appears to be one of clear purpose, shorn of arrogance. We are beginning to feel that the bowlers of the world should start to worry.
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