St. John's (Antigua): The West Indies suffered a major blow to its World Cup hopes on Sunday when exciting middle-order batsman Marlon Samuels was forced to pull out of the squad because of a knee injury. All-rounder Ryan Hinds has been called in as a replacement for the tournament which takes place in South Africa, Zimbabwe and Kenya from February 8-March 23. "We are disappointed but realise how much more disappointed Marlon himself must be," said Viv Richards, chairman of the West Indies selection committee.
"But we believe that our decision to replace him for the World Cup is best both for the team at this time and, more importantly, in the interest of Marlon's future career. "We see him as an extremely integral part of the future of West Indies cricket and we hope that the West Indies Cricket Board (WICB) will ensure that he quickly gets the best medical treatment available, so that he can begin his return to competitive cricket."
Samuels' World Cup disappointment comes as a result of a medical report submitted to the WICB by Dr Akshai Mansingh, a member of the WICB's medical panel, following a scan performed in Kingston on Thursday. While indicating that there was a possibility that Samuels could participate in the World Cup by "protecting his knee in training, and doing only gentle exercises", the report also stated that "it must be clear that he may break down at any time".
The report further recommended that Samuels undergo additional corrective surgery on his knee that was operated on in Sharjah in February of last year and which may involve a bone grafting procedure. Hinds, already in Antigua as one of five reserves called by the selectors for the two-week training camp, will now depart with the rest of the team when it leaves the Caribbean on Tuesday for South Africa. Samuels was the one of the stars of the West Indies tour to India last year with his unbeaten 108 off 75 balls in Vijayawada helping his team to a 135-run win over the hosts in the final match of the One-day series.