Bangladesh v West Indies, 2nd Test, Khulna, 3rd day

Samuels, the Test batsman

Marlon Samuels is now an integral part of West Indies' long-form plans; it had taken him a while to get things right in Test cricket, but he seems to have now worked his way into the form of his life

Mohammad Isam in Khulna

November 23, 2012

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Marlon Samuels drives, Bangladesh v West Indies, 2nd Test, Khulna, 3rd day, November 23, 2012
Marlon Samuels' double-ton was a well-paced innings © Associated Press
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Had Marlon Samuels survived that delivery from Rubel Hossain late in the day in Khulna, he would have hit sixes "for the rest of the evening". That's in his words. After ten hours and more of discipline and calculative strokeplay, which got him 40 runs shy of a triple-hundred, this declaration at the post-play press conference was his most brash shot.

"If I didn't get out that ball, I was waiting for the spinners - it was a harder ball [the third new ball was taken about four overs earlier] on a slow surface. I would have been hitting some sixes continuously for the rest of the evening," Samuels said. "It is most definitely disappointing [not to get a triple-hundred]. Nevertheless, a double-century is a big milestone and I have to work with it, and enjoy it to the fullest."

The 260 Samuels made here is his highest Test score, surpassing his previous best of 123, which he made three months previously against New Zealand. Samuels had his share of luck - he even survived the ball hitting the stumps without dislodging the bails when he was on 167 - but close shaves didn't fluster him. This was a consummate effort from a batsman at his very best.

He began the day rather fluently, scoring 82 off 81 balls as he neared his first double-century. After lunch his change of pace was remarkable, and his strike-rate dropped down to 34. He resumed the more positive approach in the evening session, scoring 40 off 57 balls till he was dismissed. The patience he showed and the adjustments he made to prolong his innings were worthy of note.

Samuels explained the thinking behind the ebb and flow of his runs: "The way Bangladesh are playing on this pitch, they are continuing to put everyone on the boundary. They wanted me to go over the top consistently. There were a lot of singles to take, I don't mind that until the mid-on and mid-off come up and then I take the chance going over the top.

"It is not the kind of track where you can start driving the ball when you get in. It is on the slower side. Bangladesh's field is spread, so definitely you have to try and enjoy taking singles, and wait for the boundaries to come. You have to wait for the bad ball and continue to rotate the strike as much as possible."

This has been a great year for Samuels, the best he has had in the ten years in Test cricket. He has topped his previous best score every time he has crossed the 100-mark and, so far, has racked up 866 runs this year, the fourth-highest aggregate overall - Michael Clarke, Shivnarine Chanderpaul and Alastair Cook, who are above him on the list, have played more innings. His average of 86.6 is a far cry from the 32 he averaged last year, when he returned to the Test team after three years.

The break helped him prioritise his life and, as a result, he seems to have grown as a cricketer. His promise at the end of the World Twenty20 final, in which West Indies triumphed and he was the Man of the Match, was that he would score five centuries by the end of the year. He now has four scores of over 100 this year, across formats, but said he would like to think of this double as two hundreds: "I said at the end of the World T20 final that I wanted two more centuries [this year] so yes, this double century is two centuries."

He is now a batsman who is an integral part of a Test team. The route he had chosen to progress from his early days of flamboyance to his current solidity wasn't an easy one to navigate, but given the satisfaction a comeback such as his brings, Samuels probably wouldn't have liked it any other way.

Mohammad Isam is ESPNcricinfo's correspondent in Bangladesh

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© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

Posted by   on (November 24, 2012, 11:37 GMT)

A man with a mission no doubt. And that augurs well for WI cricket. Took a little while to fulfill his true potential, but is not far away. ALL the best Samuels. Yes, I support the comment" His attitude has changed"

Posted by mikey76 on (November 24, 2012, 11:19 GMT)

With Chanderpaul close to retirement Samuels needs to take up the mantle of chief accumulator. If the West Indies can put together the final pieces of the jigsaw i.e a match winning spinner and a decent wicket-keeper batsman they might start competing with the bigger nations. They are already a formidable limited overs side, lets hope for the sake of world cricket and particularly the Caribbean their test fortunes take a similar turn.

Posted by Lara4life501 on (November 24, 2012, 9:47 GMT)

Couldn't be happier,innings like this from Samuels have been ten years in the making,you can see the way in which he talks about his cricket now,as someone who has totally changed their outlook on the game,and also of life in general.The 2 years he spent away from cricket has been nothing short of a blessing in disguise for both Marlon and the West Indies.He is much more patient in his stroke play,particularly early in his innings,and plays alot straighter than previously.Very similar to the adjustments Brian Lara made prior to him enjoying his renaissance as a batsman from 2001 until retirement.Like Lara there is no reason Samuels can not finish his career averaging 50+

Posted by   on (November 23, 2012, 21:44 GMT)

When he made his test debut more than a decade ago I thought he had great potential. Then he fell by the wayside. In his second coming he has been unstoppable. His attitude has changed and he is mentally tougher. With Bravo and Chanderpaul, he forms a formidable middle order for the West Indies. Good luck to him.

Posted by   on (November 23, 2012, 20:30 GMT)

Why is he not the captain or vice -captain? He seems to be the player with all of the skills, as a batsman, as a bowler, as a fielder. And he seems to understand the nuances of the game - when to attack, when to defend, etc. He also seems to command the respect of the players. Sometimes it feels to fans as if Sammy is more of a mascot than a captain. He's a nice guy, but ultimately the captain should be a guy who, on his own merit strikes fear in the hearts of the opposition, like Alexander the Great or Steve Jobs or Pele.

Posted by SNIFFLEATHER on (November 23, 2012, 19:54 GMT)

The fact that Samuels isn't happy with 260 speaks volumes for his maturity, well done Marlon...here's to many more!!!

Posted by   on (November 23, 2012, 19:47 GMT)

Ever since he was drafted in the WI team to Australia and I watched his first test innings, I believed him to be the best I've seen for a long time with a great future. He has had some tough times: some of his own doing, others through victimization...his suspension I think was the Board;s (WI) way of saying "I can do what I like when I like"...that's all now behind him...he is responding in the way of a true champion...many more great innings Marlon... just let your bat do the talking...now that you have earned the respect, you can demand it...continue to make JAMAICA and the CARIBBEAN proud

Posted by shatta_dt on (November 23, 2012, 19:11 GMT)

Well done Samuels, its been a long road. This is an example to other people irrespective of it been sport or personal life, that its not where you have been but where you are going that matters.

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