APPARENT concern over what might await him should be return to India has reportedly caused Marlon Samuels to decline selection for the current World Cup as replacement for the injured Dwayne Bravo.
Although known within the team here and among those within the game in the Caribbean, the West Indies Cricket Board (WICB) have made no statement on the matter apart from announcing Guyana leg-spinner Davendra Bishoo as Bravo's substitute.
Contacted yesterday, WICB corporate communications officer Imran Khan would neither confirm or deny the report.
"All I can state what is already known, that Davendra Bishoo has been chosen as Dwayne Bravo's replacement," he said.
Clyde Butts, chairman of the West Indies selection panel also declined comment on the matter.
The 30-year-old Jamaican was banned by the International Cricket Council (ICC) for two years in May 2006 for passing information on to an Indian bookmaker.
The evidence was supplied by the Delhi police through taped telephone conversations during a West Indies ODI series in Indian in 2007.
The ICC charge against him was that he "directly or indirectly…engaged in conduct prejudicial to the game".
He consistently pleaded his innocence, stating that his aim was to regain his place on the West Indies team once his ban ended.
His decision has now placed that hope in doubt, especially since the West Indies are scheduled for a tour of India in November and December.
Samuels has taken the same course as that of South African players Herschelle Gibbs and Nicky Boje who were both implicated in the match-fixing scandal that led to a life ban for the late captain, Hansie Cronje.
They chose not to return to India, for fear of arrest, until they were given assurances by the Indian police prior to their return for the 2006 Champions Trophy.
More recently, Pakistan wicket-keeper Zulqarnain Haider abandoned his team during a series in Dubai and flew into London, claiming he had received death threats from illegal Indian bookmakers after he led Pakistan to victory in a match over South Africa.
Betting is prohibited in India but untold millions are placed with illegal bookmakers on cricket, the nation's most popular sport. They, in turn, seek to entrap players into deliberate underperforming or providing information for huge sums.
It represents a widespread criminal network, with fierce competition between rival groups. Indian police compare it to the illegal drug trade in other countries.
The West Indies' World Cup management in India reportedly asked for a so-called impact player, a dominant batsman or a wicket-taking bowler, to fill the gap left by Dwayne Bravo, the all-round dynamo.
The selectors first opted for Samuels, an experienced player with 29 Tests and 107 ODIs to his name, before switching to Bishoo after his withdrawal.
Samuels, now 30, returned to regional cricket for Jamaica in October after the end of his two-year ban from the International Cricket Council (ICC) in May 2008.
A batsman of obvious talent, he was considered an underachiever in his 29 Tests and 107 ODIs prior to his ban.
Since his return to regional cricket with Jamaica, he was the leading scorer in the Caribbean Twenty20 tournament in January and also tops the current four-day tournament batting.
He began the season with an unbeaten 250 against Guyana and has followed with hundreds against Barbados and against the Leeward Islands in the current match.
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