Before his Test retirement after the ongoing series against India, Marlon Samuels, one of the senior members of the current West Indian side, spoke about the prospect of playing and winning in front of his home crowd in Jamaica during the second Test, starting on Saturday (July 30), the need for the hosts to play as a unit to bounce back in the series and why there isn't a better time to give Alzarri Joseph, the 19-year-old uncapped pacer, ago.
West Indies are set to take on India in the second match of the four-Test series, starting tomorrow, but already trail 0-1 after an innings defeat in the opener at the Sir Vivian Richards Stadium in Antigua.
“It’s a great opportunity and not too many sports men get to play in front of their home crowd. I’ve got the opportunity more than one time and I cherish it — playing in front of the Jamaican crowd,” Samuels told journalists yesterday. “It’s a great opportunity, not only for me, but for the team to come out here and play some positive cricket and put up not just a challenge, but a fight.”
Samuels has impressed in West Indies colours at Sabina Park before. He is eager for a repeat, but stressed the importance of the team winning.
“The most important thing is to win in front of the home crowd and to play as a unit. The team [players] have it in them to come back; they have pride,” he said. The 35-year-old Samuels has enjoyed a rich vein of form of late in the short versions of the game. He was instrumental in the West Indies lifting the ICC World Twenty20 crown in India earlier this year.
The middle-order batsman also played crucial knocks as the regional side reached the final of the recent tri-nation One Day International series involving South Africa and eventual winners Australia. But his recent run in Test cricket has been dismal. An attractive and fluent knock of 50 in the second innings of the first Test loss to India was an indication the tide could be turning.
“When you make a half-century, it’s a milestone and you have to cherish it, but at the end of the day you always want more. “I haven’t been getting the runs that I’m looking for in the Test arena, but I’ve been making it up in the short version. “It augurs well that I’m doing well for the team in the shorter versions. It’s just for me to start focus and put in some big performance so that the team can benefit from my performances,” he explained.
He admitted there is plenty on him as a senior player, especially since the younger players have been struggling. He said the responsibility has at times forced him to curb his attacking nature. “To be honest, there’s a lot of pressure there. I’m not going to tell you there’s not a great deal of pressure.
It’s not just to stand up and score 50 or a 100. I have to bat through, because I’m batting at four, so I have to dominate but know when to — if we lose a wicket — to tone it down. “Sometimes if I’m on the go I like to have a go, but the responsibility is great so I have to change my game.
“We have to just encourage the younger players that it’s not just the senior players doing the job,” said the right-hander. Fellow Jamaican and former West Indies wicketkeeper/batsman Jeffrey Dujon suggested during commentary in the match in Antigua that this series could be Samuels’ last in Test cricket.
But the West Indies star responded with a dismissive swat. “Jeffrey Dujon can say anything. What I can say is that I’m here to focus on the Test series and put my best foot forward and make a significant contribution so the team can benefit. “That’s my ultimate goal and that’s my focus at the moment,” Samuels said.