“I will insist that I wasn’t allowed to [live up to my potential],” Samuels told the Indian Express. “I have had some good runs with the bat in the past too. But the system back home didn’t let me build on them. I wasn’t selected consistently enough.”
“They’re trying to back me again since my return. That’s what they should have done back in 2002. Nevertheless, it’s never too late. I am a survivor. A fighter. And once the sun rises from the darkness, the rainbow I see is red, green and gold.”
Samuels was banned for two years in 2008 for “receiving money, or benefit or other reward that could bring him or the game of cricket into disrepute”. Before the suspension, his average crossed the 30-mark only in ODIs. In the thirteen Tests since his return, he has averaged 50.25 and has also improved his ODI and Twenty20 averages. He has struck three centuries in all formats since his return.
His stony-faced appearance too has been one of the constant features, and he admitted that he still carries the “a lot of anger” for the two-year ban. “I carry it with me. It helps to motivate me. It stems from the two years I was away. I’ve had a wonderful run across all three formats since my return,” he said.
“When you see my face on the field, and I look angry, that means I am really focused. I am in my zone then. Once the match is over, I love to have a drink or two and laugh a lot. Chris [Gayle] and I sit around and talk a lot of rubbish. All day long, and all night long. But once I cross the ropes, and get onto the field it’s war,” he said, adding that the bigger change has been of his mindset rather than his game.
“There’s not much I have changed about my cricket. It’s the mindset that has changed. I have had many ups and downs, and I have fought through.
“If I wasn’t strong enough, I would have given up the game a long time back. And now the time is here to express myself in the best way possible. I am playing free cricket and that’s what is helping me now.”
He said that he is aware of his responsibilities in the team and that is to contruct a base for the middle-order.
“It’s all about picturising every situation possible on the eve of the match. Good and bad. So that when you face them during the match, you are ready to overcome them. I call it playing the game before it starts.”
“Having a daughter was one of the best things that could have happened to me. That’s taught me how precious this life is. But being a senior member of the team has helped immensely.
West Indies tour Bangladesh next month where they play two Tests, five ODIs and a Twenty20.