Dubai: West Indian all-rounder Andre Russell feels individual ego and lack of communication from the board and the team management are the main reasons for the two-time champions’ dismal performance in the Twenty20 World Cup.
In an exclusive interview with Gulf News, Dre Russ, as he is popularly known, said: “I am very disappointed with West Indies’ performance in Twenty20 World Cup. No one went with the mindset not to qualify for Super 12, but at the end of the day it is the poor selection. Can’t blame the players, they tried their best. I am not saying anything because I wasn’t part of the squad.
“Knowing what I have done in international cricket, I am going to back my talent and maybe we would have qualified for Super 12. Maybe a few other players are part of the squad, they could have come to the party. Not saying we would have won the World Cup, but being in the Super 12 gives you every chance. We are two-time champions and was I part of the it, we know what to do on the big stage. That’s the reason I am so disappointed,” he added during an event where he was named the Brand Ambassador for UK-based consumer technology company T4tec.
West Indies, the two-time Twenty20 World Cup champions, have been entertaining fans across the world for several decades with the attacking brand of cricket that fits perfectly to the Twenty20 format. But the Caribbeans have suffered another major decline in recent times, where they lost in the qualifiers that involved Associate Nations.
The Caribbeans have lost 4-1 in Twenty20 against India and 2-1 in both the whiteball formats to New Zealand, 2-0 in the Twenty20 against Australia before suffering shock losses against Scotland and Ireland in the World Cup qualifiers.
Caribbean cricket going backwards
One of the reasons for the loss is that the West Indies didn’t pick some of the best in the business, that includes Russell, Sunil Narine and Shimron Hetmyer, who have been playing franchise cricket across the world.
“Let me be straightforward and honest, too much ego is involved. West Indies was the No 1 team in the world in T20 a few years ago and now we have to play qualifiers. Our cricket is going backwards, because they are not picking the best players, forcing good and active players to retire because of the system,” Russell said with regret writ large on his face.
Russell went on to add how he missed the lure of money with several franchise leagues to play for the West Indies and how badly he was treated by past players.
“For me it was a simple decision that did not go according to plan. A few years ago, me, [skipper Kieron] Pollard and [head coach Phil] Simmons had a zoom call and they all mentioned the importance of the seniors players in the squad and I was excited to see the direction they were going. They wanted to know our schedule in advance for what series we were available and not available for. It was a straight-up decision.
“The guys who are involved now are the same guys who were involved then. The only change is chairman of selectors, Desmond Haynes. He didn’t know the conversation that happened two years ago. Disappointed that the coach was part of the call and he didn’t utter a word on what had planned before. They said four series were coming up during that period — India, Bangladesh, New Zealand and one before the World Cup in Australia, of which one or two series I am going to miss, because I am not on central contract with West Indies. I am not getting paid 100 per cent like others.
“For me, playing for West Indies is important, so I said I will miss New Zealand series and I am available for the three series. So they agreed. During that period I missed a few leagues to play for West Indies, no one is looking at that. What they look at is I was missing a series to play the 100-ball in England. I am not going to allow these guys to dictate my pace,” said the 34-year-old who has played 428 Twenty20 matches across the world.
“I have no hate for them, I am just disappointed, not with any player and anyone, it’s just the guys on the board who are involved in making these decisions. Just tell me, Russ you can’t go because we want the team gelling for the World Cup and everything. They are going to tell me? No.”
Instead, the board members wanted Russell to go to Australia and then see if he was going to be picked for the World Cup.
“That was the instruction coming from the head of the board. It sounds like a set-up. So in the media they say that I chose to go and play league cricket than choosing to play for West Indies when we had the discussion months before they selected the 15-man squad. I explained to them that I will have to leave at a certain time. They said OK, but at the last minute they know they weren’t going to allow it. From the beginning just be honest, then I can prepare myself. I miss out on this money for the love of West Indies cricket,” clarified Russell, who has been a loyal player for Kolkata Knight Riders in the Indian Premier League (IPL).
Loyal to greener grass
The all-rounder was honest to accept that the money he earns from franchise cricket is lot more than what he would get paid playing for West Indies and everyone is loyal to the greener grass, including the coaches who are with the national team. He feels it is the jealousy of the former cricketers which come to the fore when they talk about current players making big money playing franchise cricket.
“What I am getting to play this game now, I know in another 10, 15, 20 years players are going to get ridiculous money when they play this game. I am not going to worry about a mediocre player getting $3 million to play IPL. Long time ago when IPL just started, players used to get may be half a million dollars. They are now saying, I am better than this player and got just half a million. Times change. Half a million back then was a lot of money, you could have purchased four properties with that money,” said the Jamaican.
West Indian maroon colours
Despite all these, playing franchise cricket across the world and making money for a comfortable living for himself, after his playing days, and for his children, the outspoken all-rounder is yearning to wear the Maroon colours again.
Are you available for the West Indies?
“Definitely, definitely. I am 34 and I know my game and I have the experience. I think I know what to do at certain times, crucial moments of the game. I have played over 400 Twenty20 matches across. That’s a lot of experience,” he concluded.