Dubai: Andre Russell, the explosive West Indies all-rounder, believes that his team can retain the World T20 crown later this year in Australia.
“We are going to win the World Cup and there are no two ways about it. We have to go into the World Cup wanting to win and having that mindset — you cannot think that some team is better than us,” he said.
Speaking to Gulf News during an exclusive interview on the sidelines of the Zurich Cricket Sixes tournament, organised by Zurich in the Middle East at the Sevens Stadium on Friday, Russell felt the West Indies will be a power again. “A lot needs to be still done. We are looking towards ourselves and trying to bring back the old days of winning series and winning the fans again. This won’t happen overnight and we all have to make sure that whatever tournament we take part, we do our best that we can.”
A much-sought after name in the world of franchise cricket, Russell believes in giving his best and continue playing daring cricket which people love to watch. “I idolised Viv Richards from my young days. He had an aggressive technique of hitting the ball. Chris Gayle, in my eyes, is one of the guys I always want to be like. I bat down the order but he opens the batting — we are two different players but we do similar things. I think what works for me is batting at the death, digging teams out of the hole,” he said.
Russell’s confidence in him is such that he believes he has a long way to go. “I just want to be the best all-rounder but I have been struggling with my knees and I cannot really get to do what I want to do in the middle. With what I believe I know I can still stand and hit the balls for fours and sixes. I want to leave my name over there so that any youngster can say they want to be like (Andre) Russell and do what he has done.
“I am 31, I still have a long way to go. My goal is try and win at least 13 (league) championships around the world before I retired. That is lot of championships, to be honest, but those are the goals I have set for myself and I want to score over 10,000 to 12,000 T20 runs.”
Russell’s approach has made cricket entertaining and he wants the sport to figure in the Olympics. “Cricket needs to be part of the Olympics. It’s a big international sport and I am not going to say that some of the sport I have seen in the Olympics are not relevant. I believe cricket is one of the worldwide sport and I am just disappointed that it is still not part of the Olympics. I want to see cricket in Olympics even it is played in T10 or even five-over format but cricket should be there.”
Russell is an admirer of Indian opener and vice-captain Rohit Sharma, who deals in sixes with ease like him. “Sharma is one of the finest timers of the cricket ball but he also has power. He is not big built and may not look strong, but he is mentally strong. He is strong inside though he may not have big muscles but he can hit a big six. A strong mind is needed to hit sixes too.”
Russell enjoys playing the Indian Premier League (IPL) where he had been a star performer for Kolkata Knight Riders. “IPL has the best atmosphere and gets the best out of me. Every year, we look forward to win IPL but every team wants to win it too — so we just have to make sure we put our best foot forward and try to play as well as possible and be consistent. Once you put your body on the line, then we should do well.”
Dre Russ Speak
Russell’s motto: ‘See ball, hit ball”
Favourite ground: Eden Gardens
The toughest bowler: Shaun Tait. He once bowled at 150 kmph and it was impossible to play him
Best batsman: Virat Kohli
Role model: Usain Bolt. He is from Jamaica where I come from.
Sportsman he wants to meet: LeBron ‘King’ James