Will globetrotter Andre Russell play the T20 World Cup?
The last time you saw Andre Russell in Maroon clothing was in the ODI World Cup match against Bangladesh. With him missing a lot of international cricket due to injury, the question is whether or not he is still in the the plans of CWI for the upcoming T20 World Cup?
Andre Russell, after being cleared by the medical panel and successfully completing CWI's return-to-play protocol, has been picked for the T20Is against Sri Lanka.
Any cricket team on the planet would give an arm for a player with Russell's all-round capability. With ball in hand, he can crank it up over 140 kph, can bowl bouncers, control the yorker and hit the hard length when his knees are serving his well.
More so, his batting capability has been on display around the world where he has won matches despite the team needing improbable 50-60 runs from the last three overs or so.
The only question mark in his case is over his fitness.
Russell has a history of knee issues, and was seen limping heavily during his 2/4 against Pakistan in what was only his second ODI since the 2015 World Cup. Despite returning for the game against Australia, his knees gave way in his second spell. He bowled only two overs against England and then six overs against Bangladesh. Sore knees meant that he did not take part in the game against New Zealand in Manchester and was later ruled out of the tournament.
The all-rounder had to undergo knee surgery bang in the middle the World Cup and was cleared for the India T20Is. He later experienced "some discomfort" while playing in the Global T20 Canada and then expressed his unavailability to the West Indies selectors. Interestingly, just hours after a CWI press release had said this, Russell turned out to play for Vancouver Knights against Edmonton Royals.
Carlos Brathwaite, the then West Indies T20 captain, however defended Russell: "I think he's been knocked in the press a bit because of his injury woes. And I think it's easy for us to see him hobbling around the field and just take for granted that he's injured but we can also look at it on the other side and say he can be home, he could be elsewhere and not trying to play for the West Indies.
"The fact that he wanted to be at the World Cup, wanted to pull on the shirt and wanted to perform for the people in the West Indies and his mates in the dressing room, I think, is testament to the person he is. And I think we need to start commending the fact that he actually tries to get on the park and stop lambasting the fact that he probably doesn't stay on it till the end of the 50 overs or the 20 overs."
Closer to the day, with the dates of Bangladesh Premiere League and Big Bash League clashing, Andre Russell chose to ply his trade in Bangladesh where he captained Rajshahi Royals. The West Indian bagged the Man of the Match in the final and the Man of the tournament to leave an indelible mark over BPL 2019-20.
Russell started off his Bangladesh Premier League campaign with bowling figures of 37/1 and a quick-fire 28 but was out of the headlines thereafter. The skipper however, continued his good work in the background and stepped up only when required.
One of such occasions was in a knockout - the 2nd Qualifier - when the Royals needed to beat Chattogram Challengers in order to move to the finals. On the big stage, Andre Russell upped his game, first claiming a crucial wicket of Imrul Kayes.
With the Royals lagging behind the match after losing some quick wickets, the skipper came out to bat at number 6 and changed the face of the match in no time. Off just 22 deliveries, he clobbered an unbeaten 54, at a strike rate of close to 250, to take the team home in the last over and walk away with the Man of the Match award.
Russell has been picked for the two T20Is against Sri Lanka that will follow the ongoing ODI series. If he takes the field in those matches, good outings will keep him in the mix for the upcoming showpiece event.
The selectors will also keep a keen eye on the Indian Premier League where he represents Kolkata Knight Riders. If the all-rounder is able to pull through, he is likely to find a place in the West Indian squad for the Aussie extravaganza. For no one in this world would be dumb enough to keep a fit and firing Dre Russ out of the T20 World Cup action.
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