West Indies allrounder Andre Russell Image Credit: Courtesy: ECB

Dubai: West Indies all-rounder Andre Russell, one of the most sought-after cricketers at the Twenty20 cricket leagues in the world, is relishing the prospects of a new frontier at the UAET20x.

The Emirates Cricket Board, who are launching their first ever Twenty20 league in December, has signed up Russell and South Africa’s David Miller as two of their five icon players.

 I am in high demand where T20 cricket is played. I just want to continue that way and make sure that I can have a good season in the UAE.”

 - Andre Russell | West Indies all-rounder

Speaking to Gulf News soon after he produced one the most stunning performances in the ongoing Caribbean Premier League (CPL) where he bagged a hat-trick and cracked 121 runs off just 49 balls for Jamaica Tallawahs, Russell said: “I’m excited to be playing in UAE’s T20 league and ready to rock and roll. I’m really looking forward to it as I feel it’s going be a very exciting tournament and hope the fans come out and give the support.”

The cheer from the fans is what Russell values the most.

When asked how much has he been enjoying playing in all the T20 leagues around the world, Russell said: “It is a very good feeling to go all around the world and playing cricket and put a smile on your fans faces. It will be a lot of fun to come to UAE again and give them some entertainment.”

runs Russell scored off just 49 balls in a CPL match

Asked how it feels to be regarded as a hot property by all the T20 leagues in the world, Russell said: “It’s a good feeling. This is why I work so hard and this is the reason why I stay focused all the time and do my best in whatever leagues I am playing. In T20 everything counts and you are watched all the time and they enjoy watching me in action and that is why I am in high demand where T20 cricket is played. I just want to continue that way and make sure that I can have a good season in the UAE.”

Russell is among the few who has played in all the major T20 leagues and makes sure to enjoy playing in every one of them. “For me each league is a different environment, country and culture. Everywhere I played, I enjoyed going around smashing sixes and getting wickets and taking catches. It does not matter where I am playing, I am always trying to give my A game and make sure I do my best,” he said.

Russell has hit centuries in less than 50 balls twice in this format. “If you bat with a positive mind, it is possible to score fast. Once you cross your half century then automatically, you become extra confident and sometimes you won’t even know how quickly you are scoring.”

Talking about his attributes of being one of the best death bowlers, he said: “It can be difficult and fun. It all depends on your confidence and on making sure that you are well focused during those times. You also need a bit of luck during those moments. You can bowl a low full toss and get smashed for a six or get a wicket.”

times Russell has scored tons facing less than 50 balls

Russell’s advice to budding youngsters is to not to confine to mere sharpening their skills. “In practice sessions, work hard on batting, bowling and also fielding. They should also try and maintain strength and get stronger. I do strength training every single day and that can make me get better.”

Russell believes that T20 will spread the game further around the world. “This format will definitely spread the game because everyone loves to play T20 and it’s fun. It’s fast paced — the wickets falling, the sixes and fours coming regularly and the spectacular catches. Twenty20 is going to be bigger.”