BRIDGETOWN, Barbados – Marlon Samuels marked his return to international cricket with a career-best bowling performance as West Indies took control over Zimbabwe on the opening day of the first Test at Kensington Oval on Tuesday.
The off-spinner was the sixth bowler introduced into the attack by skipper Darren Sammy and ended with 4-13 from 6.4 overs as West Indies bowled out the visitors for 211. He beat his previous best bowling figures of 3-74 against India at the Wankhede in Mumbai in November 2011.
Samuels was also outstanding in the field, holding on to a stunning one-handed catch at gully earlier in the innings.
The home side will resume on Wednesday on 18-2 – 194 runs away from first innings lead with eight wickets in hand.
Samuels took a wicket with his first ball – knocking over the stumps of left-hander Craig Ervine – and he later had Graeme Cremer caught at point. Samuels ended the innings with the wickets of Kyle Jarvis – caught at short leg to give Kieran Powell his third catch – and Tendai Chatara taken at mid-off by Kemar Roach.
The 32-year-old said he was delighted to make a successful return to the game.
"You can call me the comeback kid. I have made a lot of comebacks in my career and today was another example of that. The welcome was wonderful so it was just for me to come back and fit in," a delighted Samuels said after the day’s play.
"The wicket with my first ball was great. He (Ervine) just pushed the wrong line and missed it.
"I have fun whatever I do in cricket… I just enjoy what I do. They call me ‘lucky arm’ now that I’m picking up wickets. It’s a lovely feeling to be back in the game."
Samuels received excellent support from tall off-spinner Shane Shillingford, who marked his return to international cricket with 3-58 off 22 overs. Fast bowler Kemar Roach made the early breakthrough with the first two wickets before lunch.
"Everyone was looking (for us) to blast out the Zimbabwe batsman, but that didn’t happen today. There was some wonderful bowling by Shillingford. He showed that the slower you bowled on the wicket you could also get some bounce as well and he did a great job. After Zimbabwe faced our fast bowlers, maybe they became a bit relaxed against our slower bowlers," he noted.
Samuels had a purple patch with the bat last year as he starred in all three formats. In Tests he had scores of 86, 117, 76 not out and 76 on the tour of England; 123 and 52 against New Zealand in Jamaica; and a career-best 260 against Bangladesh in Khulna. Overall he made 866 runs in seven Test matches. And he has his eyes set on another big score when he gets a chance to bat.
"I’m looking for the three-figures. I bowled well for the team so I’m working towards three-figures and setting the team in a good position to win the Test match. We want to make it five Test wins in a row so we have a lot of work left to do in this game," Samuels said.