He was expected to be the X-Factor for the West Indies in the ICC World Cup 2019 in England. After all, he has the muscle and the power the smash any bowler out of any ground in the world. Andre Russell was to be the critical component in the West Indian batting unit – the power hitter lower down the order who would take the team to big scores or finish games for them with a flourish.
Unfortunately, though, this hasn’t happened so far in the World Cup 2019. Russell has put up a disappointing performance thus far in the tournament with scores of 15 and 21. In both those knocks, Russell had ample time and opportunity to make an impact and take his team to comfort. Instead, he has been merely swinging his bat at almost every ball. He has hit some almighty and cracking sixes. But frustratingly he has been dismissed to poor shot selection while going for yet another slog.Embed from Getty Images
West Indies need Russell to be more responsible rather than produce little and attractive cameos. Those might work in T20 cricket, but the ODI World Cup is a different ball game altogether.
The hopes from Russell for the World Cup came after his spectacular performance in the Indian Premier League 2019. Representing the Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR), Russell was in outstanding form, smashing 249 runs at a stunning strike-rate of 204.81. He was striking the ball with incredible power and won Kolkata games from some impossible situations. Russell continued his form throughout the tournament and was the biggest X-Factor for KKR this season.
Since the IPL had ended just weeks before the start of the World Cup, there were high expectations that Russell would continue his dominant form for the West Indies as well in the big tournament. That hasn’t been the case, unfortunately.
Russell has learnt, yet again, that domestic T20 tournaments and a championship like the ODI World Cup are two very different propositions. There are no belters here, and the bowlers are of absolute world class level. The boundaries aren’t short either, and the format requires much more applications than T20 cricket. Russell’s unabated hitting style may work for T20 cricket, but the ODI format demands some patience and planning by the batsmen.Embed from Getty Images
In the match against Australia, in a chase of 289, Russell had come into bat around the 35th over with West Indies having the game in their grip. But he played an attractive cameo and perished to a reckless shot. The same was repeated against England at a crucial stage when West Indies was batting first. Russell’s dismissals in both the games caused the team to slip further and eventually lose the matches.
One hopes that Andre Russell would have learned his lesson now. This is the all-rounder’s third World Cup and in 13 matches in the tournament so far since the 2011 edition; he has managed only 192 runs at an average of 21.33 with no fifty-plus score. It is about time he took some serious responsibility and changed these numbers quickly before he fails in yet another edition of the World Cup.
There is no denying that Andre Russell can be a serious game changer for his team in the World Cup 2019. But if he remains adamant on swinging his bat at every ball and getting out after making rapid-fire cameos, then he would be doing more damage to the team than good in this tournament.