Had the West Indies cricket been a musical album, Andre Russell would’ve symbolised one song and one song alone. He would’ve signified the emotional ballad- Come Back To Me- by Liam Gallagher.
For one whole year, 2017, there was no sign of Andre Russell.
God alone knows why he got embroiled in a doping saga?
That burly frame, the chiseled physique, his veinous muscles, sculpted to perfection- none of it required Andre Russell to direct his attention elsewhere, on something like an artificial, unnatural stimulant. Consequently, this is a period where West Indies cricket fell to such an extent that the team had to combat associate nations (and those lying at the very bottom of ODI rankings) in order to book its tickets for ICC World Cup 2019.
Before the ICC World Cup qualifier- participating in the sheer agony of which may have caused indescribable pain to Caribbean Cricket’s great heroes- the West Indies were white-washed by Pakistan in a T20 series, got white-washed again by New Zealand in both ODI and T20s and found themselves at the receiving end of some belting handed by Pakistan in the Caribbean.
It wasn’t a pleasant sight to see the Windies lose even ODIs at their home turf. 24 months of his absence was tantamount to his side spending a near lifetime of ignominy akin to a prisoner subjected to solitary confinement.
Then, mid-way July, it was announced that Andre Russell would return to the West Indies ODI and T20 unit to tackle Bangladesh. He’d only play a solitary ODI but would participate in all 3 T20s.
Finally, the Windies breathed a sigh of relief.
Although blokes like Mehidy, Mustafizur, Mortaza and Shakib couldn’t experience any relief. They had no clue that Andre Russell was busy calculating the seat in the stand that he’d send the white ball to in the T20s. In the Second ODI at Lauderhill Russell, aiding a falling Windies plundered a 104 meter six, the longest ever by a Windies batsman against Bangladesh.
After winning the opening T20, largely thanks to a great team effort, the Windies were on the edge as they lost the second contest and were dying for survival in the all-important final. Set 185 to win, Russell walked in at 4-77, at his customary no. 6.
By the time he’d depart, the Windies chances would wither away too.
But by this time he’d ensure the team got to a respectable albeit failing total, pushing it to 135 somehow.
In doing so, Russell struck a mighty 103 meter six, one of the 6 sixes in that stormy inning of 47 off just 21 balls. Interestingly, Bangladesh’ collectively tally of sixes in that game was 5.
The way Andre Russell flexed his arms and carved Mustafizur over widish mid-off for a mighty six should’ve actually compelled umpires to grant Windies 12 runs.
But well, Cricket has rules.
So what if Andre Russell magnifies the sport staying within those confines? The only sign of respite for Russell was his personal best of 47, bettering his 43 against India, another landslide knock that knocked out the ICC World T20 semi-finalists, the hosts nonetheless. Moreover, he’s strike 11 sixes from 3 games.
In a series were Evin Lewis compelled Windies selectors to drop him, there being no Gayle with Marlon Samuels playing mute spectator, you even forgot that there was Rovman Powell around.
That’s impact that only a Russell can bring
In the end, as the Windies went down fighting 2-1 to Bangladesh, Andre Russell provided fans with a trailer of the mayhem he was about to unleash in the forthcoming CPL, about to start inside a week from West Indies’ loss in the USA.
A few hours back, the real alligator of Jamaica Tallawahs crept up on his opponents, Trinbago Knight Riders.
True to a competitor who excels at the highest stage, Andre Russell reserved his best against the mighties in the exciting, ball-busting T20 slugfest.
In striking an unbeaten 121, he’d consume only 49 balls and would become the fastest striker of a CPL ton, reaching the milestone off only 40 balls.
Do the math; find out the strike rate.
If you are a bowler who’s thrown down the towel, calculating the extent of damage- be sure to take a pill for a headache.
But like all promising all-rounders- scoring high on impact, low on hype- Russell would also contribute via a vital 3-for in the same game.
Giving the defending champions a taste of their own medicine, Andre Russell bludgeoned 13 sixes in his incredible assault against the Bravo brothers, the most sixes struck in a CPL ton.
Here’s a perspective on what lies ahead
In no format of the game, including ODIs, the IPL or T20s for his West Indies, has Russell collected 1000 runs so far. It’s been 5 years that he’s been around.
But basis his outstanding fitness levels and a penchant for exhibiting sheer power, it could be said, he’ll play for 5 more years at the least.
In the forthcoming period, he may not be able to go beyond 2000 or 2500 runs in the briefest format. When you come into bat at number 6, a time by which much of the story has been scripted, you don’t possess the luxury of writing the Epilogue.
What you do have, however, is the charisma and magic to script a climax, and if you write it well- read thud sixes well since its Andre Russell- you can script your opponents’ “The End.”
Thankfully, Andre Russell is back and guess what? He possesses both the power and the intent to script fighting climaxes.