Samuels sees West Indies 'going back on top'
Marlon Samuels feels West Indies cricket is "going back on top" after years of disappointment and that while there is a long way to go yet, the side's game is "where we want to be" at the moment. Following their early exit from the Champions Trophy, Samuels backed West Indies to do well against strong ODI opponents India and Sri Lanka in the tri-series beginning in Jamaica on Friday.
"We are not going to blow our horn about it but at the moment if you look at the West Indies set-up we have some wonderful players with a lot of experience," Samuels said. "So you can't rule us out. The great thing about West Indies cricket right now is that we are competing and winning games, not like back then when we were losing games. And not just in the Caribbean but also outside it, the fans are coming back. So that is motivating us to win more games so that we can win back the fans' hearts plus put West Indies cricket back on top."
Samuels tempered his optimism by acknowledging that West Indies, currently ranked No 8 in ODIs, needed to show progress in numerous aspects of their game. "It is a steep corner to turn but the good thing is that we are on the corner, we have not turned it as yet, so there are a lot of areas we need to improve." he said. "We need to have more match-winners and get balls in the (right) areas consistently. As a unit we are getting stronger and better and the strength in the group will, in the long-run, see us winning games non-stop and beat the best teams in the world.
"For me, when I finish I want to know that West Indies cricket is No 1 again." Samuels said.
West Indies exited from the Champions Trophy in heartbreaking circumstances following a rain-hit tied match against South Africa, leaving Samuels to wonder what could have been. "The way I saw it we should go back into the finals and meet India and then it would be perfect, we would just play a T20 and finish off the tournament, we are the T20 champions. It never happened."
India, the Champions Trophy winners, are the No 1 ranked ODI side and Sri Lanka are positioned three places above the hosts but Samuels was upbeat about West Indies' chances. "India and Sri Lanka are very good teams, big names and some young players coming through in good form and playing well, but I am still backing the unit that I have a lot of belief in." he said.
"We are playing some serious cricket right now and gaining a lot of respect, individually and as a team. Playing in maroon is more special than anything else for us." he said. "Our cricket is where we want it to be at the moment but there is room to improve."
Ottis Gibson, the West Indies coach, said they were a bit unfortunate in the Champions Trophy and wanted his side to put the "little mistakes" behind.
"I think we were starting to shape up to do well in that tournament. It's just to kick on from there," Gibson said. "It's to put those little mistakes that we made in England, put them away. We felt we had a good opportunity to win that tournament and we want to win this one and prove ourselves right."
"It is good to be back home. It is the first time we are playing a tri-nation tournament in quite a while so we are looking for positive results." he said. "There's more balance in the side and we are starting to believe a lot more that we can be the team that we want to be. We are starting to show the application and hopefully we will continue to show that development and progress."