THE Jamaica Cricket Association (JCA) disregarded strong West Indies Cricket Board (WICB) advice yesterday and dispatched Marlon Samuels to Anguilla with the Jamaica team for the opening match of the Carib Beer Series against the Leeward Islands, starting tomorrow.
At the same time, JCA president Jackie Hendriks said in Kingston that Samuels had asked to have his injured left knee examined by his own specialist in Washington with whom he "would feel more comfortable."
"That seems a perfectly reasonable request and, as I understand it, an appointment has been firmed up for sometime next week," he added.
It conflicted with WICB president Wes Hall's announcement yesterday that an appointment had been made tomorrow for Samuels to see Dr. Ainsworth Allen, the New York orthopedic surgeon who has treated several West Indian players.
Samuels was withdrawn from the West Indies squad for the forthcoming World Cup in South Africa last Sunday following a report to the selectors of an MRI scan on his knee by Dr. Akshai Mansingh, a member of the WICB's medical panel.
But Samuels said in Kingston he felt "100 per cent fit" although acknowledging that intermittent pains in his knee during the West Indies' training camp in Antigua last week prompted him to consult Dr.Mansingh.
Both Hall and WICB acting chief executive Roger Brathwaite were adamant that Samuels should not play in the Anguilla match.
They fear further damage to the knee that was operated on during the West Indies series against Pakistan in Sharjah a year ago and, according to Dr.Mansingh's report, will require further surgery that would put him out of action for up to a year.
Hall said Wednesday it would be "the quintessence of cricket stupidness" for the classy 22-year-old batsman to play with his injury.
Brathwaite issued a statement last night supporting the selectors' decision and setting out the WICB's position.
"The WICB feels strongly that it is not in Marlon's best interest for him to play in the upcoming Carib Beer series," Brathwaite said. "While we are advising him not to play while carrying this injury, we do not have the authority to prevent him from playing and, regrettably, will not be responsible for any injury he may suffer as a result."
Hendriks said he could not comment on Brathwaite's statement as he had not seen it.
The decision to replace Samuels, with left-handed all-rounder Ryan Hinds for the World Cup issue has generated heated protests in Jamaica. He was one of the stars of the West Indies batting on the tours of India and Bangladesh late last year on his return after a seven-months layoff following his earlier knee operation.
There have been accusations of unfairness and insularity on radio call-in programmes and from Jamaica coach Robert Haynes.
"It's not cricketÓwe as Jamaican and West Indies supporters should do something about it," Haynes said.
He claimed captain Carl Hooper, who had surgery on both knees in early December, and fast bowler Merv Dillon, who returned from the tour of India in November with a back injury, had been asked to carry lighter workloads at the Antigua camp than Samuels and said their fitness could also be questioned.
"The way things have transpired have left room for a lot of suspicion," Samuels' agent, John Pinnock, told the Jamaica Observer.