Having led the West Indies to World Cup glory after three decades,a special welcome by the Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller,a motorcade ride to the parliament office and a hand-crafted national flag awaited Marlon Samuels on his return to Jamaica. In an interview with The Indian Express,Samuels speaks about his match-winning 78 in the final and throws light on his redemption journey after his two-year ban (2008-10) for receiving money from an Indian bookie.
There was a sense of anger in your play during the final-both during your innings and in the field.
A lot of anger. I carry it with me. It helps motivate me. It stems from the two years I was away. Ive had a wonderful run across all three formats since my return. The night before the final,I told myself that this was a huge day for the team and the whole of the Caribbean. A world title was up for grabs after three decades,and it was up to me to play a stellar part.
Was it a kind of redemption for you,after having failed to capitalise on your talent for 10 years since making a great impression in India?
You say I didnt live up to my potential for 10 years. But Ill insist that I wasnt allowed to. I have had some good runs with the bat in the past too. But the system back home didnt let me build on them. I wasnt selected consistently enough. Theyre trying to back me again since my return. Thats what they should have done back in 2002. Nevertheless,its 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.
It looked like you had a personal dispute to settle with Lasith Malinga.
Malinga had bowled me with a yorker during the IPL. That was the only time I had faced him. I had decided that I would take him on when we meet next. I wanted to show the world that he wasnt superhuman. He was just a good bowler who got it right more often than not. I also knew if my assault would come off then that would take the sting out of their attack. I loved the sixes I hit,especially the one that travelled 108 meters. Trust me,if the pitch was faster and the ball had come onto the bat,I would have hit it much longer.
You seemed pretty pumped up even in the field.
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 its war.
What has changed about your approach towards the game since coming back from the ban?
Theres not much I have changed about my cricket. Its the mindset that has changed. I have had many ups and downs,and I have fought through. If I wasnt 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 thats what is helping me now.
Did the two years away change you as a person too?
It taught me that I cannot trust everyone I meet. As an international sportsman you do end up interacting with a lot of people. But these days I prefer staying by myself. Sticking to my room,and keeping in touch with my daughter and son when Im on tour. Im no longer into socialising at bars and drinking and partying with strangers. The most I do is spend time with my friends like Chris.
The time I now have to myself I spend by creating more responsibility for myself by getting more dogs. I have close to 20 now already.
You talk a lot about how responsibility has changed your life.
Having a daughter was one of the best things that could have happened to me. Thats taught me how precious this life is. But being a senior member of the team has helped immensely. I know my responsibility in the team is to construct a base for the middle-order. I know exactly how to do that now. Its 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.
Do you want to forget the two years you were away from the game?
Never. If I was to forget that horrible period then I would get into a comfort zone,which I dont want to. They taught me a lot about life and my cricket in general. And talking about how they affected me has been a huge motivational factor for me. All of what is happening right now,the World Cup and my good form is a dream. The past will help motivate me towards ensuring a great future.