Marlon Samuels has always been an enigmatic figure in the world of cricket, with his fiery demeanour and swashbuckling batting heroics propelling him to the heights of the game.
He is unquestionably one the game’s polarising characters, having played the hero in two T20 World Cup finals in 2012 and 2016 against Sri Lanka and England respectively, but in the same career has become Ben Stokes’ nemesis through some ill-advised behaviour and now an astonishing tirade earlier this week.
His mesmerising performances in both finals with bat in hand put to bed belief that he would not fulfil his undoubted potential, but he is man who has had run-ins with police over bribery, and someone who has become engaged in a seven-year feud with Shane Warne.
Marlon Samuels has established himself as one of the most divisive figures in cricket
The Jamaican boasted of his ‘f***ing superior skin tone’ and made a disparaging remark about England star Ben Stokes’ (right) wife Clare (left)
Shane Warne hit back at Samuels as an ‘ordinary’ cricketer and said he needed serious help
Michael Vaughan, the former England captain, also led criticism of Samuels’ ‘racist’ posts
For all the glitz and glamour on the biggest stage of a World Cup showdown, there has always been a lingering suggestion that he was somewhat the unappreciated member of the group whose success few used to revel in.
There was no hint either that the lack of appreciation shown towards him had anything to do with the two-year ban handed to him by the ICC after reportedly being caught on tape by Indian police allegedly passing on match-related information to a bookie during West Indies’ one-day series in India in 2007.
As with his career, Samuels’ situation was anything but clear cut. The West Indies board labelled the decision ‘harsh’ and recommended a suspended sentence on account of Samuels’ previous good behaviour, while former bowler Michael Holding insisted that Samuels may well have shown naivety in befriending the bookie, but he was ‘by no means a dishonest person’.
Samuel’s talent on the field has never been in doubt, winning the man of the match award in the World T20 final in 2012 after West Indies beat Sri Lanka
Samuels then held the innings together four years later as his side beat Stokes’ England team
Nor did the non-recognition come from being banned from bowling in international cricket for 12 months in December 2015 after his action was found to be illegal for a second time since December 2013.
Rather, it was apparent that by the time of his anchoring display in the final against England in Kolkata in 2016, Samuels had instead been on the warpath with fellow players for a while.
During the second edition of the Big Bash League in 2013, Warne began his rivalry with Samuels after the Melbourne Renegades batsman appeared to hold the shirt of batsman David Hussey as he attempted a second run.
Later in the match, when Warne was bowling for Melbourne Stars and Samuels batting, the leg-spinner went up to the West Indian and aggressively pulled on his shirt and shouted ‘want to grab some more people? F*** you mate,’ a heated exchange that was picked up on live television.
But despite his talent, his war with fellow players had been apparent by then, and started when he drew a stern reaction from Shane Warne (right) in a Big Bash League game in 2013
Samuels, who was playing for the Melbourne Renegades, threw his bat in Warne’s direction during the 2013 clash after the Aussie fielded a ball that hit him in the chest
Warne further provoked Samuels by throwing the ball towards his torso while fielding at short cover, with Samuels retaliating by throwing his bat in Warne’s direction in response.
The spinner’s retirement from all forms of the game came soon after and despite moving into the commentary box, the Australian did not abate and continued to be critical of Samuels on a number of occasions behind the microphone.
Commentating for Channel Nine on the first Test at Hobart of West Indies’ Test tour of Australia in 2015-16, Warne reportedly said: ‘Marlon Samuels is Mr Experience out there but he hasn’t really given anything in this Test match so far.
‘He’s fielded on the boundary, he hasn’t shown any enthusiasm or any intensity.’
Warne (middle) did not abate in his criticism of Samuels even when he became a commentator
Samuels was then involved in a rather disappointing run-out in the New Year’s Test at Sydney, leading Warne to supposedly say: ‘Horrific running from Marlon Samuels there.
‘He hit it in the gap and he was just sort of too cool for school when he took off… Sorry Marlon, it’s all your fault.’
Warne was relentless and went in on him again just a few months later during West Indies’ World T20 semi-final against India in 2016, cheaply giving his wicket away to leave West Indies struggling with just 19 on board while chasing 193.
‘For your No 3, Marlon Samuels, in this situation in such a big game, that’s an embarrassing dismissal,’ Warne is reported to have said by The Indian Express. ‘That’s pretty poor. He’s too cool to be schooled.’
A game later Samuels had just been crowned World T20 champion for the second time though, and despite Warne congratulating him and his team-mates on the title on Twitter, Samuels was in no mood to exchange pleasantries.
Warne was uncomplimentary towards Samuels’ fielding in West Indies’ tour to Australia in 2015-16, especially during the first Test at Hobart
‘Every team I play, Shane Warne has a problem with me. I don’t know what, I’ve never disrespected him, it seems he has a lot inside him that he needs to come out with.
‘I don’t appreciate the way that he continues to talk about me, and the things he keeps doing. I don’t know, maybe it is because my face is real and his face is not,’ with the end of the sentence a jibe at Warne who has reportedly admitted to using Botox.
Samuels also appeared to receive support from the leading figures in his own dressing room following the triumph.
‘Marlon is his own man,’ said captain Daren Sammy. ‘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.
Samuels was also involved in a run out in Sydney and Warne blamed the mix up all on Samuels
‘Now we’ve won the tournament, now we’ve walked the talk and put action on the cricket field now we can express our opinions freely as we choose.’
Batsman Lendl Simmons was not surprised that Samuels lashed out, adding: ‘I don’t know what he had to say, but Marlon is very emotional and the emotion came out then. 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 in what he had to do and that only went well for us.’
‘I know Marlon and Marlon is a guy who rises in these situations, and I guess Shane Warne is doing his job,’ match-winner Carlos Brathwaite said of the stand-off between the duo.
West Indies captain Daren Sammy led a number of team-mates who backed Samuels
‘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) 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.’
Lendl Simmons backed Samuels and said no one could expect him to hit back following the criticism he had received
The stick did not end there though given the lack of humility Samuels showed in that post-match press conference, putting his legs on the table while addressing the journalists as part of an attitude many perceived as cocky and boisterous.
It was a demeanour that annoyed England’s Stokes too, who voiced his annoyance by writing in his 2016 book Firestarter that Samuels lacked respect during those moments.
He wrote: ‘Marlon lacks respect. You get that if you have spent any time with him on a cricket field.
‘Marlon’s conduct after West Indies’ victory over us in this year’s World Twenty20 final showed a total disrespect for the game.
‘Without removing his batting pads, Marlon walked into a press conference, sat down and placed his feet on the desk. Totally lacking manners.’
Matchwinner Carlos Brathwaite (right) also sympathised with Samuels after the win
But many, including Stokes, were unhappy with his lack of courtesy in the press conference, putting his legs on the table as he addressed the media
That lack of common courtesy has befallen Stokes too given the bad blood between him and Samuels that has lasted now for more than five years.
Samuels famously and rather sarcastically saluted Stokes off the field after he was dismissed for just eight on the third day of a Test match in Grenada in April 2015, with the England man returning the favour by applauding when Samuels was out in the same match.
Curtly Ambrose insisted he wanted Samuels to keep having fun at England’s expense after their first clash, but few would be surprised if the West Indies legend regrets describing their war as ‘a little bantering’ if he had the benefit of hindsight.
Samuels and Stokes exchanged words during the 2016 World Twenty20 final after Brathwaite had smashed four consecutive sixes off Stokes to guide West Indies home.
The feud became an issue once again during West Indies’ tour to England in 2017, with Samuels warning Stokes to ‘stay on the boundary’ for the limited-overs leg of the tour.
‘With me coming to England, he should stay on the boundary when I’m batting, as far away as possible,’ Samuels said.
Samuels clashed with Stokes in the aftermath of the final and exchanged words with him
Samuels (right) and Stokes (left) had previous from the field before – Samuels saluted Stokes as he left the field during a 2015 Test match between West Indies and England in Grenada
‘As long as he keeps quiet, I won’t start anything, so if anything does happen that means he has said something to me first.
‘He wanted to take me on a couple of years ago. He started something and I told him he better be prepared to finish it.
‘But I saw him during the IPL this year (2017) and he didn’t say anything. I hope he can continue on that path. If not, I have things in place.
‘I’m going to come to England and be a good boy…at least for the start of it.’
While no issues arose from that tour, the rift has dropped once again like a bombshell this week.
Stokes was forced to quarantine for two weeks as a Covid-19 precaution before playing in this year’s IPL, and told the BBC Test Match Special podcast: ‘Some of the England boys were messaging me asking what it’s like and I was saying it wasn’t the most enjoyable thing you ever have to do… I wouldn’t wish it on my worst enemy.
The England man returned the favour by applauding when Samuels was out in the same match
But after stating he would not wish quarantine on him, Samuels, in a foul-mouthed Instagram post, described Stokes and former Australian cricketer Shane Warne as ‘b****’
‘I text my brother saying the same thing and my brother asked, “you wouldn’t even do that to Marlon Samuels?”
‘I said, “no, it’s that bad” – that’s how tough it was.’
The response from Samuels was audacious and stunning in nature, writing on Instagram: ‘Give me 14 days with your wife turn har [sic] into Jamaican in 14 seconds mate.
‘No white boy can diss me in the sports and no [sic] get diss back,’ Samuels wrote, before calling Stokes a ‘b****’.
Later in the outburst, after the derogatory remark about Stokes’s wife, Samuels said ‘it’s my f***ing superior skin tone y’all hate, f*** you.’
In a later Instagram post, Samuels, 39, had a pop at Stokes and Warne while promoting his ‘Sextillion 7th Power’ perfume range, and also posted a number of supportive messages from fans.
Samuels’ post on Instagram which has been widely condemned as racist and unacceptable
Samuels continued his tirade against Stokes in another Instagram post, recalling how he saluted the England batsmen after he was dismissed at Grenada in 2015
In a bold move, he also posted a recording of a message supposedly sent to him from an English cricket coach in which advice was sought on how to avoid ‘Ben Stokes syndrome’ of getting out early.
Some of the offensive posts were later deleted by Samuels, but criticism nonetheless arrived from the likes of Michael Vaughan and Warne himself, claiming he had no friends in the game and urging him to seek serious help.
Stokes appeared to hit back at Samuels but posting a set of pictures of the West Indian on his Instagram stories, including pictures of Samuels squaring up to himself and Warne on the cricket field and various other images from Samuels’ career.
Yet pictures can only tell some of the story of the truly enigmatic figure of Marlon Samuels. He has approached his game in the same manner as his off-field conduct, all guns blazing and with little thought of the repercussions.
Now with the latest row with Stokes, it appears Samuels, for all his World T20 heroics, will fail to even enter even the most forgiving supporter’s good books.
Stokes hit back by posting a series of photographs of Samuels in action on his Instagram
One of the pictures Stokes posted was of him being saluted off the field by Samuels