COLOMBO: Marlon Samuels will leave Sri Lanka on Monday having finally emerged from the shadows of a controversial career to revive West Indian cricket with a splendid all-round display.
Samuels starred with bat and ball as the West Indies ended a 33-year wait for a world title, when Darren Sammy's men upset Sri Lanka by 36 runs to win the World Twenty20 in Colombo on Sunday night.
Samuels smashed 78 off 56 balls to help the West Indies to a modest 137-6 and then took 1-15 from four steady overs of off-spin as the hosts were shot out for 101 in front of 35,000 stunned home fans.
Samuels hit six sixes and three fours to lift his team to 105 runs in the last 10 overs after they were reduced to 32-2 from the first 10.
“This is a moment to cherish and cherish forever. It means the world to us,” the 31-year-old Jamaican said after being named man of the match.
Samuels has endured a turbulent 12-year career since his debut in 2000, having seen his bowling action questioned before being suspended for two years in 2008 for alleged links with bookmakers.
“The career has been up and down,” Samuels admitted. “There have been a lot of tough times. I dealt with them in simple ways and tried to let them pass.
“Being under pressure on a cricket field is nothing compared to what I've been through off the field.
“But as my mentor always said to me, everything that happened to me in life is because I am important. I'm not someone that will ever give up. I never say die.
“The person that I am deep down inside is the reason why I am still here playing cricket. I have a family that believes in me. If outsiders don't, it doesn't really matter to me.”
The win on Sunday gave the West Indies their first world title since the 50-over World Cup triumph under Clive Lloyd in 1979, although they won the invitational Champions Trophy in England in 2004.
Samuels said the victory would turn the tide for Caribbean cricket and win back fans who had deserted the team in bad times over the last decade.
“This is a great achievement for past cricketers and for the present cricketers who have bonded together to form a strong unit,” he said.
“Around the world, people still love to watch West Indies cricket. We will celebrate as long as possible and enjoy the moment. The sky is now the limit for us.”