“Really? You are really going to do it like this?” the International Cricket Council (ICC) official asked Marlon Samuels after he arrived for the press conference and put up his feet up on the table, with pads and spikes on. The Jamaican batsman had just carried West Indies to the World Twenty20 trophy with a composed innings.
He sat in an angle, not looking into the official broadcasters’ camera. He had scored a brilliant, unbeaten 85 against England in the final, and had minutes later slammed former Australia spin great Shane Warne. “I woke up this morning with one thing on my mind. Shane Warne has been talking continuously and all I want to say is ‘this is for Shane Warne’. I answer with the bat, not the mike,” Samuels had said at the presentation ceremony before the media conference.
OLD WARNE ANIMOSITY
The animosity stems from a Big Bash match at Melbourne in January, 2013 where Samuels’ attempt at humour, trying to prevent Melbourne Stars batsman David Hussey from taking a non-existent single, led to tension. When it was Melbourne Renegades’ turn to bat, Warne got into an argument with Samuels, tugged at his shirt and then flicked the ball at him, provoking the Samuels to fling his bat close to Warne’s head. The video of the incident went viral as one of the worst cricketing moments. The relationship between the two since then has been poor.
“Warne has a problem with me. I don’t know what. I have never disrespected him. It seems he has a lot inside him that needs to come out. I don’t appreciate the way he continues to talk about me. And the things he keeps doing. I don’t know, maybe it’s because my face is real and his face is not,” he told the press conference before criticising England all-rounder Ben Stokes for needling Carlos Brathwaite in the final over.
“I keep telling him whenever we play against each other ‘do not speak to me because I’m going to perform’. I didn’t even face a ball and he had so much to say today.” I knew that I had to be right there again. That’s what I thrive on, that’s why I’m around for so long despite so much of ups and downs,” said Samuels.
Samuels has played a vital role in West Indies’ successful campaign. Sure, Chris Gayle has hogged the headlines but it was Samuels who rescued the team thrice, which included a match-winning 78 against hosts Sri Lanka in the 2012 WT20 final and 85 not out against England on Sunday night, the highest individual score in a WT20 final.
He has suffered a few downs as well. He was suspended for two years in 2008 after being found guilty of taking money to underperform. He was also banned in 2013 from bowling his quicker off-breaks.
At 35, Samuels has won the World Twenty20 twice, the second triumph coming at a venue where he scored his maiden Test century 14 years ago. The reaction of Samuels, who took off his shirt and was restrained by his teammates, was unusual as he is not known for such outbursts.
He was also fined 30 percent of his match fee for clashing with Stokes on the field. But on a dramatic night for West Indies, what mattered was how he let his bat talk.