Marlon Samuels backs young seamer Alzarri Joseph ahead of second Test against India | cricket | Hindustan Times
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Marlon Samuels backs young seamer Alzarri Joseph ahead of second Test against India

At 6-2’ with a wiry body, Joseph is known to be deceptively fast. The speed guns are not yet out on him but he is rumoured to be regularly clocking 145km/hr. Only 19, Joseph is best remembered for how he pushed India to the brink in the U-19 World Cup final earlier this year by taking three Indian top order wickets, a setback they could never recover from. Question is whether he would be allowed to chart his own territory in a format where he has played only eight domestic matches.

cricket Updated: Jul 29, 2016 11:59 IST
Somshuvra Laha
Marlon Samuels  said that Joseph be played at the age of 19 and not at 25.
Marlon Samuels said that Joseph be played at the age of 19 and not at 25. (AFP)

After completing a few rounds of the Sabina Park, Alzarri Joseph sat in a golf cart with a bottle of water. As he drank from his bottle, Joseph looked tense, unmindful and perhaps a little overwhelmed by the possibility that he could be making his debut at a venue where almost half the Indian team was sent to the hospital by the West Indies pace attack in 1976. That sting has been long lost. Raw pace and intimidation has now been replaced by mellowed down medium pace targeted on containing batsmen rather than engaging them. Joseph, people say, could be different.

 At 6-2’ with a wiry body, Joseph is known to be deceptively fast. The speed guns are not yet out on him but he is rumoured to be regularly clocking 145km/hr. Only 19, Joseph is best remembered for how he pushed India to the brink in the U-19 World Cup final earlier this year by taking three Indian top order wickets, a setback they could never recover from. Question is whether he would be allowed to chart his own territory in a format where he has played only eight domestic matches. 

 Marlon Samuels has no doubt Joseph should play. “I would definitely play him. Fit, fast and fearless, when are you going to play him, at 25? He’s 19 now, it’s the best time to just let him go and enjoy himself and express himself,” he said on Friday. More than pushing for Joseph’s debut, Samuels also seemed to say that he wanted West Indies to fight aggression with aggression, something they didn’t do in the first Test. 

 Samuels too was 19 when he made his debut in Australia in 2000. And he made some handsome scores in that series. Now 35 and 65 Tests old, Samuels knows a thing or two about the typical cricket mentality --- fearless when young before experience tends to make one more cautious. “Everything I said about Alzarri just now, basically covers me (when I made my debut),” he said. 

Young team

In his own way, Samuels also posed a question to the tendency of buying time by saying that West Indies have a young team. Captain Jason Holder mentioned exactly that a couple of times in the last Test. “It’s a very young team. Many of us are looking at finding our way in international cricket,” Holder had said before the first Test. After losing it by an innings, Holder said “It’s a young team and it’s important we enjoy our cricket as much as possible.” Samuels seems to have a problem with the word ‘young’. “Well, first and foremost, I’m not going to be here to tell you that it’s a young team. For me to say that is like finding excuses for the team,” pointed out Samuels.  

“It’s a Test team, and Test cricket is big-man cricket, and the players should know that by now. They are here, playing Test cricket. So we all have to step up to the plate, and put up a very good challenge against the Indians. Yes, we have new players coming in, but they still have to deliver. At the end of the day you have to do to keep your job here,” he said. 

 Joseph is the newest kid on the block. And for all the talk that West Indies aren’t producing enough fast bowlers, here is a young pacer who can take wickets, bowl fast and if persisted with, could go on to become a match-winner. Providing him with the right backing now could spell out Joseph’s career over the long run. What remains to be seen is how far the West Indies are willing to do that.