Andre Russell rued the “bad decisions” that plagued Kolkata Knight Riders this term. The 31-year-old Jamaican is Knight Riders’ only knight in shining armour, with 406 runs in 11 matches at a strike-rate 209.27 in this IPL.
At the KKR versus Mumbai Indians pre-match press conference at Eden Gardens on Saturday, Russell said: “We have a good team but if you make bad decisions, then you will always lose games and that’s what we have been doing. If we had enough time, I could pinpoint a few games where if we just looked to bowl tighter in areas or bring in right bowlers at the right time, we could have won.”
The presser felt like Russell’s audition for a larger responsibility ahead (next IPL season). And without naming any individual he went on… “As a professional cricketer, to be in this position is not the healthiest position. In terms of decision, we have been bowling wrongly at the wrong time, that’s what been causing for us to keep losing in simple ways.”
Knight Riders are on a six-match losing streak and if they falter again tomorrow, they will be out of the top-four race.
Russell refused blame the team’s batting for failures. “I’m disappointed that we get defeated by a team, Rajasthan Royals, with weak batting order. If we can’t restrict a team for under 170 with our bowling attack, then we will need miracles against a strong team like Mumbai. They said we have been struggling in batting. But the batting has not been struggling really. We are getting the totals that we should have defended. But when you bowl as bad as our bowlers, you don’t really take catches… We have been the worst fielding team so far,” the allrounder said. He had earlier spoken about how he would like to bat up the order and face more deliveries.
Opportunity to change perception
As for the forthcoming World Cup, Russell agreed that the tournament would give the West Indies players an opportunity to change perception. All too often, players of Russell’s ilk have been ridiculed as franchise cricket mercenaries.
The ‘big man’ said he is “hungry” to represent his national team, while admitting that his IPL form led to his Caribbean recall after a gap of close to nine months.
“I’m so hungry right now to represent the West Indies, because a lot of fans have been saying all sorts of things. They never know what it is to play with injuries and to play in situations where you aren’t comfortable. And if you keep playing for your country and you aren’t comfortable, then the performances won’t show as it always shows here in franchise cricket,” Russell said. He dropped a not-so-subtle hint that the Cricket West Indies (CWI) at times didn’t recognise their value.
“What’s been happening over the years is (that) we have been playing all around the world in T20 leagues; we have been treated like royalties and, you know, we haven’t been treated like we are part of the Caribbean team. I think that’s where it should be more fun because we speak the same language, we can be yourself and stuff. I took two injections to better my knee but it flared up and I was so upset. I was watching the games against England and couldn’t do anything about it. So as I said before, I’m so hungry right now to represent the West Indies and to smash sixes and to do what I have been doing here and score hundreds.”
The Board-players friction has had been affecting cricket in the Caribbean. But with Ricky Skerritt taking over the CWI reins, there appears to be a silver lining.
Asked about this, Russell said: “I’m not a politician. So I don’t get into the politics. I just play my cricket. At the end of the day, politics will always win over whatever… I don’t get deep into that. Never met him (Skerritt) before. Hope it’s for the better of West Indies cricket.”