The classy top-order batsman was out of the game with a facial injury, but made a successful comeback with a stroke-filled half-century for Sagicor West Indies High Performance Centre against Zimbabwe in a three-day fixture.
West Indies Head Coach Ottis Gibson welcomed his return and also backed experienced opener Chris Gayle to break out of his recent slump and come good in the upcoming matches.
“Having Marlon back is great news for us. The injury was unfortunate but he has been a ‘big’ player for us in the last 12 months or so. He has been the main batsman in all formats and we are very happy to have him back in the team and we expect him to do well again,” Gibson said.
“Chris is a quality player and I’m sure he will turn around his fortunes very soon. We have no doubt he will perform for us. He has done it many times before and we know he will be confident going into this series.”
The resurgent Samuels starred in all three formats last year. In Tests he had scores of 86, 117, 76 not out and 76 on the tour of England; 123 and 52 against New Zealand in Jamaica; and a career-best 260 against Bangladesh in Khulna. Overall he made 866 runs in seven Test matches. His most memorable knock, however, was the brilliant match-winning 78 in the ICC World T20 Final against home side Sri Lanka in Colombo last October.
Gibson was speaking during his official pre-series media briefing at the team hotel as the two sides prepare for the first Test at the historic Kensington Oval. First ball on Tuesday is 10 am (9 am Jamaica Time).
“The interesting thing is we play three different formats with some new players coming in, so hopefully those players will bring a new focus. The Test series is very important for us because we have won the last four matches we have played and if we can win these two, we would have go back to see the last time the West Indies have won six Test matches in a row. That is something we want to focus on and an achievement we would like to have after the Test series,” Gibson said.
“For us as a team we have to focus on the first session of the first Test match and look to take it from there, and at the end of five days of hopefully good cricket we would come away with a win and put smiles on the faces of everyone.”
WEST INDIES SQUAD
Darren Sammy (Captain)
Denesh Ramdin (Vice Captain)
Ottis Gibson (Head Coach)
Richie Richardson (Team Manager)
Toby Radford (Assistant Coach)
C.J. Clark (Physiotherapist)
Hector Martinez Charles (Strength & Conditioning Coach)
Richard Berridge (Video & Statistical Analyst)
Philip Spooner (Media Manager)
Fitz Alleyne (Massage Therapist)
SCHEDULE OF MATCHES
Fri, Feb 22: 1st One-Day International – West Indies won by 156 runs – National Cricket Stadium, Grenada
Sun, Feb 24: 2nd One-Day International – West Indies won by 7 wickets – National Cricket Stadium
Tue, Feb 26: 3rd One-Day International – West Indies won by 5 wickets – National Cricket Stadium
Sat, Mar 2: 1st T20 International – West Indies won by 8 wickets – Vivian Richards Cricket Ground, Antigua
Sun, Mar 3: 2nd T20 International – West Indies won by 41 runs – Vivian Richards Cricket Ground
Thu, Mar 7 to Sat, Mar 9: Zimbabwe vs Sagicor HPC – Match Drawn – Desmond Haynes Oval, Barbados
Tue, Mar 12 to Sat, Mar 16: 1st Test – Kensington Oval, Barbados
Wed, Mar 20 to Sun, Mar 24: 2nd Test – Windsor Park, Dominica