Interview with Marlon SamuelsDave Wilson |
The black shimmering Tundra Toyota stops at a traffic light in downtown Kingston and Marlon Samuels behind the wheels points to the row of night clubs. “I was a regular in these parts at night. But everything has changed. I lead a much more settled life. I am still not married to my girlfriend. But the birth of my two kids, Dmitri and Dijona, has changed my outlook to life and cricket”, says the 30 year old as he drives us towards his house in the uptown Cherry Hills.
A week later Samuels played a solid and matured, if not flamboyant knock of 78 not out at Kensington Oval in the 2nd Test against India. It may not have been a spectacular knock but it was an effective effort as Samuels waged a lone hand to save West Indies from an all too familiar batting collapse.
“I was dropped for the 1st Test in Jamaica despite scoring a half century in my last Test match. So there was a fire burning and I had to prove everyone that I still belonged here”. But in 2007 it was Samuels who failed to prove his innocence and he was found guilty of fixing the outcome of a one-dayer against India. His telephonic conversation with alleged bookie Mukesh Kochaar was used as testimony to ban him for 2 years.
It was a tough and difficult time for Samuels and it taught him to be mentally stronger. “When things go well you take everything for granted. But when you undergo tough times, you realise the importance of little things in life. I have become more religious. I am not someone who would pray a lot of times but before I start a day, I just say a quick thank you to God. Cricket means much more to me now.
“I have lost trust in humans. The dogs are more faithful and sincere. They will love you irrespective of how you fare on the cricket field. A hundred or a duck, they will always shower you with affections”, says Samuels as he cuddles Samson, the Labrador and Simba, the Akita.
“Having lost 2 years I have to make up for it by scoring more runs. I may not overhaul Sachin’s records but I want to at least score hundreds. Big runs against India is special because they are the top team in the world”, says Samuels who struck his maiden one day ton in 2002 against India under trying circumstances. He had been asked to return home for breaking the team’s night curfew but the Jamaican Cricket Association prevailed upon the captain, Carl Hooper and the manager, Rickey Skeritt, to retain him. “People talk about the scoring a hundred after breaking a night curfew but no one knows that I scored the hundred using a bat gifted to me by the boss himself – Sachin Tendulkar”.
We are now inside his house and he leads us to a dark corner of a room and shows us ten newly born puppies from Sheeba. “They are adorable and I will name them after my favourite cricket shots – this is the cutest one and it will be called Sachin’s flick”, says Sameuls as he lifts a black pup by the neck to pose for a picture.
Rebirth and redemption is the theme of Samuel’s cricket journey from here on. As he drives us back from his home to the team hotel, he hopes it will be a smoother ride in his second innings without any roadblocks on the way.