West Indies legend Michael Holding is displeased by comments made by former Australian fast bowler Geoff Lawson who went beyond the boundary in describing Marlon Samuels as being someone affiliated with gangsters and not to be taking lightly.

The shocking remarks follow Samuels’ controversial remarks during the presentation ceremony following the Windies’ World Twenty20 win on Sunday vs England.

Samuels, tongue-in-cheek, dedicated his Man-of-the-Match award to another ex-Australian player Shane Warne who was scathing in his criticism of Samuels during the semi-finals. Lawson, on The Big Sports Breakfast radio programme, stated: “He’s tied up with some pretty shady people back in the West Indies, he’s a guy you don’t muck around with on or off the field...He’s tied up with the gangs there and it goes well beyond cricket.” Holding, also Jamaican, defended his compatriot in his Wisden India column yesterday and believes Samuels has been wronged more often than he has done wrong.

“He has had a tough few years, and he let off some steam after securing the trophy. He has had to cope with a lot of flak for that, but it is disappointing to see some of the things that have been said.

They are quite unsavoury,” he said emphatically.

The respected Jamaican commentator continued: “I understand that Geoff Lawson said Marlon was a member of some gangs in Jamaica, that he was involved with ‘shady people’. It is total rubbish. I don’t understand how somebody who knows absolutely nothing about Marlon can make statements like that. He is trying to influence the world about a young man he knows nothing about.” Holding said he has known Samuels for “donkey’s years” and never known him to be involved in any gangs.

“I am absolutely sure nobody in Jamaica can testify to him being involved in any gang either. He has been getting a lot of bad press because of what he did in the final against England, and what he said about Shane Warne. But people have to understand that he has been going through a lot of grief in recent times.

“He was accused of getting financial rewards from bookmakers – he is totally innocent – and went through a two-year suspension because of that. The person that he was talking to was not even a bookmaker! So, naturally, he is a very angry man. He is very angry about that situation and, at one point, he almost stopped playing the game.” Holding, a critic of Twenty20 cricket, said he did not watch the final but praised Samuels for once again performing in a crunch match and delivering a man-of-the-Match knock in a final like 2012.

“He stood up for West Indies in the final, as he has done before, and it shows that he has the ability. And when he is battling against the world, he can show exactly what he is capable of. That is why he came out so strongly after the final.

Apparently, he heard that Warne had made disparaging comments about him, during commentary, and they have history going back to the Big Bash League. Back then, I had spoken to Marlon about the incident.

Marlon lashed out after winning the final because when someone has been as scarred as he has been, it is easy for him to lash out after that sort of performance.

That is his way of saying: ‘Here I am. I have been wronged, but I am till here, winning the World Cup for my country’.”

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