Marlon Samuels eager to make a mark at Champions Trophy

Bridgetown (Barbados), May 26 (IANS/CMC) Resurgent batsman Marlon Samuels says he is unfazed by the responsibility of having to shoulder the brunt of the West Indies batting over the last year.

The gifted Jamaican right-hander has emerged as the linchpin of the regional side's batting but says he is now more equipped than ever to deal with the pressure of expectations and the demands of international cricket.

"If I told you about my off-the-field life and the issues, you can understand why I can go on the field and take on so much responsibility," Samuels told CMC Sports in an exclusive interview Saturday.

"The responsibility I have right now on the field is much easier than what I have off the field because there are so much people for me to take care of, plus my family as well."

"I have found myself. I am not really floating around on earth. It is always good when you find yourself and you are comfortable with yourself then everything goes according to plan," he said.

"I am a man with a plan so I make a lot of plans and I execute all my plans properly. I am just giving thanks that everything is working out how I want it to work out."

With a well documented two-year ban now behind him, the 32-year-old has finally begun to realise the immense promise that heralded his arrival on the international scene 13 years ago as a teenager.

Two half-centuries in first four Test innings on return in 2011 hinted at what was to come but it was last year's ill-fated tour of England where Samuels proved his weight in gold.

The West Indies failed to win a single game but an in-form Samuels scored 386 runs in the three-Test series at an average of 96, reeling off scores of 31 and 86 at Lord's, 117 and 76 not out at Trent Bridge, and 76 at Edgbaston.

Samuels followed up with 123 and 52 in the second Test against New Zealand in Kingston before unfurling a career-best 260 against Bangladesh in the second Test in Khulna.

His high class 78 in the Twenty20 World Cup final against Sri Lanka was the basis of West Indies' eventual triumph.

Samuels, one of the five Wisden Cricketers-of-the-Year for 2012, said it was important now that he achieved the high standards he set for himself.

"I put extra pressure on myself by saying in the media that I am going to score a hundred or 250 or stuff like that," he explained.

"That's just the extra pressure I put on myself. I am not really overconfident, it's just me pushing myself to a next level because I know people are listening and they are going to be looking to see if I can do what I say, and I always like to defend what I say."

Samuels leaves the Caribbean Saturday with the West Indies squad for the ICC Champions Trophy in England and Wales, which runs from June 6-23.

The tournament, the final edition to be played, will provide Samuels with yet another chance to put his skills on display. In his only Champions Trophy to date, Samuels managed a measly 22 runs from six innings back in the 2006 tournament when West Indies lost to Australia in the final.

He now hopes to leave an indelible mark on the campaign.

"I've been looking forward to this tournament. This is the last time this tournament will be played so I want to make a big impact in terms of playing my role so that the team can benefit from my all-round performance," Samuels pointed out.

He has recovered from the groin injury that cut short his run in the Indian Premier League and said he had been in training and was now back to full fitness.

"I am always ready. It's just that once you are playing so much cricket, you're going to get a few things that always set you back a bit but nothing that sets you back will set you back for a long time," he noted.

"You will always come back again and use your will powers and continue to play cricket and give it your all."

--IANS/CMC

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