Marvellous Marlon fulfils potential

Blog Opinion

The stage may have been set for Chris Gayle to blast his team to World Twenty20 glory but scripts in finals tend to give themselves over to those less noisy.

The stage may have been set for Chris Gayle to blast his team to World Twenty20 glory but scripts in finals tend to give themselves over to those less noisy.

One got the feeling that, rather arrogantly and unwisely, Gayle had put too much pressure on himself with a pre-match boast that the Windies would win. It was certainly one of his most uncool innings in recent times.

Dwayne Bravo's birthday was spoilt by a Simon Taufel shocker (perhaps you chose the right time to go, Si), so it was left to Marlon Samuels to take the Caribbean team to the trophy with a scintillating display of clean hitting.

He had decided to take on Lasith Malinga before the final. Take him on he did with five sixes and a four. It was a strange final but one that will be remembered for a man who has had a monumental last 12 months on the cricket pitch.

Samuels was in danger of being labelled mercurial and flawed, a bit like the late Runako Morton. His Test debut was way back at the beginning of the Millennium as a raw teenager. In 2002, he defied a team curfew, although West Indian curfews tend to be a bit more liberal than the rest.

More seriously, five years later, Indian police accused Samuels of giving out team information to a known bookie prior to the 1st ODI between the West Indies and India in Nagpur. He was banned for two years by the ICC in May 2008 for 'receiving money or benefit or other reward that could bring him or the game of cricket into disrepute.'

On the pitch, Samuels was also in danger of corrupting his talent. A wonderful technique and arrogance to his batting was exposed by a lack of numbers. It is alright to strut if you are Viv Richards but a Test average of 30 was not going to get him a regular place in what was already a weak middle order.

After scoring a stack of runs for Jamaica, he got back into the Test team against Pakistan in May last year. Things began to click slowly into place, as he added weight to his once lazy approach to Test match batting. The strokes were still there but now the product had a steel reinforced underbelly.

The 31-year-old is looking at the long game now and it really all came good this summer in England. Scores of 31, 86, 117, 76* and 76 were consistent with his enormous talent.

He is an absolute treat to watch, a man who seems to have aeons of time to play his shots. In his last 13 Tests, he averages over 50 and his current modest overall average, accrued in his first phase as a 5 day player, should start to rise even higher.

The Jamaican admitted he has endured a lot of tough times but those times have now changed: "For two years, I have put in the hard work. As my mentor always said to me, everything that happened to me in life is because I'm important. I'm not someone that will ever give up. I never say die."

That is certainly true, but whereas some tough it out ugly, Samuels toughs it out in such an aesthetically pleasing manner you are left wanting more. Surely, there will be more.

<b>Tim Ellis</b>