ICC made me a scapegoat: Marlon Samuels
Melbourne: As he gears up to return from a two-year ban for giving team information to a bookie, West Indian batsman Marlon Samuels feels he was made a "scapegoat" by the ICC, which handled the matter "unfairly" and was merely looking to make an example out of him.
Samuels was banned for two years by the ICC for leaking vital team information to a bookie in India, but the 29-year-old had always maintained he did nothing wrong.
"I am an honest person. My conscience would not allow me to come back if I knew within myself I had done something wrong," Samuels said.
"They need to spend time on situations like this, it is delicate and very important because you are dealing with players` careers," Samuels was quoted as saying in `Sydney Morning Herald`.
"When they looked at my case, they used me as a scapegoat, the ICC wanted to make an example out of me when I was never in a position for them to be able to use me as an example. The way they dealt with my case was very unfair.
"I really didn`t have a case; when I went to the hearing I thought it would be just a fair process but it wasn`t like a hearing at all, I was just banned," he said.
Samuels was charged with sharing team information with the bookie ahead of a one-dayer against India in Nagpur on January 21, 2007.
The case against Samuels centred on a police-tapped telephone conversation he had with Dubai-based Indian national Mukesh Kochhar whom he had first met in Sharjah in 2002.
The conversation occurred the evening before the match, which India won by 14 runs and included accurate revelations of the Windies` batting line-up and bowling order. The chat included both men saying they would be in Mumbai.
The ICC investigated the matter and found Samuels guilty of breaching its code of conduct that could bring him or the game of cricket into disrepute.
Indeed, during an internal hearing by a West Indies Cricket Board disciplinary committee it was noted, "There is no evidence before us that Samuels exchanged or had any intention of exchanging for reward the information he shared with Kochhar. If anything, the evidence is quite to the contrary."
"The majority therefore accepts that Samuels is an honest cricketer; that he has never betted on cricket matches and that he was unwittingly and innocently sucked into an unhealthy vortex by an unscrupulous gambler posing as a mentor and father figure," the committee added.
Samuels won`t predict if or when he might appear for the West Indies again, but maintained, "I`ll just let my bat do the talking."
"These two years have been a blessing. Cricket had taken me away from my family and I used these two years to get closer to them," he added.