Thursday, 19 March 2020

MAN OF THE MOMENT: Andre Russell’s return to top form brings well-deserved accolades

BACK ON TOP: “I have a different approach this time around,” Russell says.

LAST summer, a terrible knee problem put Andre Russell on layoff, away from the cricket field and the sport he’s so immensely passionate about. But with his fighting spirit firmly intact he’s worked his way back from injury to the international spotlight and the commencement of a new chapter in a storied and ever-evolving career as a sportsman.

“I did a lot of rehab, made a lot of sacrifices – just being home working out and strengthening my body and doing stuff to make sure I’m fit again,” the towering Jamaica and West Indies star tells the Observer’s Sanjay Myers. “I also did a PRP (platelet-rich plasma) and also a stem-cell injection. Since I got those done, my knee has been feeling very good. I think a disciplined diet and avoiding hard-surface running [also helped].”

Out and about again and impressing selectors, he was recalled to the West Indies side in February for the two-match Twenty20 international against Sri Lanka in early March. For the all-rounder, earning a place in the regional team is like the ideal validation of what he brings to the game. “I’m happy to be back in the maroon. I think playing for your region is always the best thing,” he says. “And that’s what I’ve been working on for the last couple of months. I’m happy to be back.” 

No kidding. Per reports, Russell went on to give “an exhilarating Man-of-the-Match performance” as the Windies swept the series with a convincing 7-wicket victory over the Sri Lankans. He was also dubbed Man of the Series. According to the CMC, “it was Russell who really grabbed the attention with a stunning 14-ball unbeaten 40, which took the world champions over the line.” 

His international future looked bleak because of a bad knee in need of surgery. Fast-forward a year later and Andre Russell, who turns 32 in April, is once again in fine form and has every intention of staying there. “Maybe I put pressure on myself playing for the West Indies because I want to do so well,” he tells Myers. “I have a different approach this time around. I’m just going to do my thing, and don’t overthink anything... I hope I can eventually bowl faster.”

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