LONDON, CMC – Veteran stroke-maker Marlon Samuels has praised the West Indies side for the dramatic comeback in the ongoing Test series against England and has also defended them against unfair criticism from pundits in the media.
The Caribbean side was crushed inside three days by an innings and 209 runs in the opening Test at Edgbaston but rebounded to stun the hosts by five wickets in the second Test at Headingley last week, after remarkably chasing down 322 on the final day.
“People were writing off the players but they are young, hungry and showing fight by winning a Test in tough conditions,” Samuels was quoted as saying.
“West Indies are not on top and playing the best but the media is too critical, they need to give these youngsters a chance because not every player starts out at the top of their game.”
The young Windies side came under heavy criticism following the first Test defeat when they lost 19 wickets on the third day to be dismissed for 168 and 137.
Shai Hope, 23, who made 15 and four in the game, came to life at Leeds with scores of 147 and 118 not out – becoming the first batsman in 127 years of first class cricket at the venue to score a century in each innings.
Samuels said it was important the young players be given time to develop.
“In history there are greats who started slow, and players who started fast and never last,” the 36-year-old Jamaican said.
“It’s a game of glorious uncertainty and you have to give guys a chance to shape their destinies. Hopefully Jason (Holder) and the boys can finish it off now.”
West Indies face England in the decisive third Test at Lord’s starting Thursday.
Samuels, who played the last of his 71 Tests last November, will be a part of the Windies one-day side who arrive here later this month for a five-match series.
His last ODI was nearly a year ago as he has been barred from selection since, after failing to make himself available for the entire Regional Super50 tournament – the Caribbean domestic one-day tournament – as per Cricket West Indies’ eligibility criteria.
Samuels returned to the squad, however, following CWI’s relaxation of the controversial rules but the out-spoken right-hander said the governing body’s eligibility criteria had been a huge detriment to the side.
“I’m not very happy because I’ve been playing ODI cricket for the last few years then they come up with this rule of playing 10 [Super50] games to qualify to play – that never makes sense,” he argued.
“We need our best players. You have to bend the rule and compromise. You can’t treat everyone the same.”
He added that CWI’s change in the rules had come after “damage” had been done.
“There should not be the damage in the first place, especially after the embarrassment of not being at the Champions Trophy and now a World Cup where we might not even be there,” he contended.
“People around the world still love Caribbean cricket because we bring the flavour and history. We need to be in every tournament, no matter what.”