Marlon Samuels’ West Indian teammates are standing solidly in support of the batsman whose comments in the wake of his man-of-the-match innings in the World T20 Final have attracted both controversy and criticism.
Samuels, whose unbeaten 85 from 66 deliveries proved the backbone for the West Indies’ dramatic overhaul of England’s 155 at Eden Gardens, celebrated his team’s final-over victory by tearing off his shirt and running towards the England dug-out shouting expletives.
He was also fined 30 per cent of his match fee for swearing at rival bowler and long-time on-field foe Ben Stokes as the final reached its climax, then used his post-match media conference to take aim at Stokes and former Australia leg spinner Shane Warne, who has been a regular critic of the Jamaican.
Samuels dedicated his Man of the Match award – the second he has earned in as many successful WT20 Final appearances – to Warne, who he claimed has maintained a media vendetta against him since they infamously clashed in the KFC Big Bash League in 2013.
Quick Single: Samuels shoots from the hip at Warne
“I don't appreciate the way he continues to talk to about me and the things that he keeps doing,” Samuels said after last night’s final in Kolkata.
“I don't know. Maybe because my face is real and his face is not?”
He also turned on Stokes, who he mockingly saluted while standing silently in the field after the England all-rounder lost his wicket during last year’s Test series in the Caribbean, and labelled him a verbally aggressive opponent who “doesn’t learn”.
But while a number of commentators have questioned the timeliness of Samuels’ outburst that has generated as many headlines as the West Indies’ remarkable win and accused him of lacking grace in victory, his captain, coach and last-over batting partner have stood stoically beside him.
Through sleep deprived eyes and party strained voices, West Indies skipper Darren Sammy, coach and former Test all-rounder Phil Simmons and Carlos Brathwaite – who belted Stokes for four consecutive sixes to seal the match – fronted the media in Kolkata the morning after.
All were asked about their view of Samuels’ post-match antics and comments.
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“Marlon is his own man,” said Sammy, who also became a post-game talking point despite not taking a catch or a wicket and making just two with the bat, because of his claim during his victory speech that his players had been “disrespected” by the West Indies Cricket Board.
“We are all responsible men.
“I had my say, a lot was said, a lot had happened before the tournament and we just put all that aside and focus on the cricket.
“We know in order to make the big statement we wanted to, we had to win the tournament.
“Now we’ve won it, now we’ve walked the talk and put action on the cricket field now we can express our opinions freely as we choose.”
Simmons, who was suspended from his role of coach late last year and missed the team’s tour to the West Indies after claiming administrative interference in the selection process, expressed sympathy for Samuels’ outburst given the criticism he has endured through his career.
“I don’t know what he had to say, but Marlon is very emotional and the emotion came out then,” Simmons said of the Jamaican who in 2007 copped a two-year ban for allegedly passing on team information to an illegal bookmaker – a charge Samuels denied.
“I think it’s something that’s been pent up in him for a while and the emotion came out.
“You can’t keep bashing people and not expect a backlash at some point in time so his emotion came out definitely which for me is a good time for it to come out because it means that it fuelled him yesterday in what he had to do and that only went well for us.”
Quick Single: Inside the West Indies' celebrations
Simmons also declined to venture his views on the regular critiques provided by Warne during his stints as a media commentator in Australia last summer, where Samuels struggled in the three-Test series the West Indies lost 2-0, and in his team’s WT20 semi-final match against India.
“I haven’t really heard much about that,” Simmons said of his former on-field rival Warne.
“I don’t listen to (commentary) … if we’re not playing I’ll listen to them with other teams, but when we’re playing I don’t read the paper.
“No disrespect, I don’t listen to them, I just make sure my guys focus on what we have to do.
“I don’t know how much Warnie was on him (Samuels).”
Brathwaite, who stole the spotlight in the final over from which his team needed 19 runs at the outset only to cruise home with two deliveries to spare, was also unwilling to enter into the spat between Samuels and Warne.
But he pointed out that the criticism that Samuels had copped during their unsuccessful Frank Worrell Trophy campaign in Australia last December and January had helped to steel the 35-year-old and his West Indies’ teammates in the WT20.
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“I know Marlon and Marlon is a guy who rises in these situations, and I guess Shane Warne is doing his job,” Brathwaite said today.
“I don’t want to comment on his job or on Marlon’s feelings, but I can comment on the way I felt through Australia and I know I was a bit difficult for the stick that he was copping.
“Not only from Shane Warne, but from the Australian and the English public and that’s what true champions are made of.
“He (Samuels) fought through everything in Australia and he came here and he just won us a World Cup and I’d just like to say congrats to Marlon, congrats to the team and congrats to the whole West Indies.
“An absolutely amazing knock that Marlon played.
“After his slow start (to his innings last night) most people are not giving us a chance to chase down the target.
“But Marlon … two World (T20) Finals, two World Cup man-of-the-match performances - it says a lot.
“Big game performer.”