Ready to rumble - Samuels vs Stokes
MANCHESTER, England, (CMC):
Captain Jason Holder has no plans on keeping combative Marlon Samuels on a leash during the five-match one-day international series starting here today, but has urged the experienced strokemaker not to get carried away in his rivalry with all-rounder Ben Stokes.
While the West Indies chase an improbable series clean sweep to achieve direct qualification for the 2019 Cricket World Cup, the spotlight will likely also fall on the long-running duel between Samuels and England's Stokes.
The pair clashed during their last meeting at the Twenty20 World Cup in India last year, and many expect a continuation during the upcoming series.
"We're just looking to play the game as a normal cricket game. Hopefully those two can stay out of trouble and we can have a smooth-sailing series," Holder told reporters yesterday.
"If it helps Marlon, I do enjoy it. If it doesn't [help him], then I don't. It's a whole team we have here and we're not focusing on those two going after one another. We're focusing primarily on winning this series and what we need to do to win this series."
The feud between Samuels and Stokes burst to life during the third day of the second Test of England's tour of the Caribbean two years ago, when the Jamaican sent his nemesis on his way with a sarcastic salute after the Englishman was dismissed.
And in a tense T20 World Cup final last year, Samuels and Stokes became embroiled in a war of words as the West Indies batsman carried his side to an unprecedented title with a brilliant Man of the Match performance.
Earlier this month, Samuels set the stage for the upcoming series by warning Stokes to "stay on the boundary when I'm batting, as far away as possible".
Holder said hopefully the rivalry would remain in good taste and not detract from an important series.