Ben Stokes believes Marlon Samuels “lacks respect” following the pair’s various confrontations over the years. A feisty, often angry, rivalry which began with Samuels’ saluting Stokes after a dismissal in the Grenada Test in early 2015 further escalated during the World T20 final in Kolkata earlier this year went the pair went face-to-face in the middle.
Samuels would end up finishing unbeaten on 85, and earn the Man-of-the Match-award, while Carlos Braithwaite clubbed Stokes for four consecutive sixes to seal the trophy. Samuels, who was later fined 30% of his match fee for abusive language, further raised the tension in the post-match press conference by saying: “Stokes is a nervous laddie…he doesn’t learn.”
In his autobiography, Firestarter: Me, Cricket and The Heat of the Moment, which is being serialised in the Daily Mail, Stokes makes clear that resentment remains strong. “Marlon Samuels 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. “It didn’t require him to give me a character assassination — bizarrely claiming I am some sort of ‘nervous laddie’ — to help me form the opinion that I do not like him one bit. I believe in the saying ‘respect the game’. I don’t think he respects the game.
“Yes, he played an unbelievable innings but, because of our personal history, it stops me short of saying he’s a good player. Team players are the good players in my eyes.”
Recalling how the tensions rose early in West Indies’ run chase, after they had been reduced to 14 for 3, Stokes writes:
“His mannerisms got me involved with Marlon. I was at mid-off and, in my enthusiasm, found myself creeping in from my position and I noticed that Samuels, at the non-striker’s end, was walking around like the big easy. I couldn’t resist. ‘You’ve got a bit of a swagger on here, Marlon, considering you’re 14 for three,’ I said. ‘Shut the f*** up, you little bitch,’ came the reply.”
It appeared Stokes would be able to have the final say, however, when he had 19 to defend off the final over to earn England their second World T20 title. But he began with a poor leg-side delivery to Brathwaite, which was swung over deep square leg, and three balls later it was all over, leaving Stokes distraught, on his knees, in the middle of Eden Gardens.
“It was a numb feeling. I felt hollow,” he writes. “My England team-mates were the ones I had affected most with those four deliveries. We had gone all the way to the tournament’s final over. But in a flash, all that hard graft had come to nothing.
“I knew the cameras would be all over me to see how I was holding up. I may have looked OK. That was an act. I was gutted. Do not show it, keep your head up — Joe Root had said exactly that to me more than once as I crouched motionless on the square”.