Andre Russell has stunned everyone with his whirlwind knocks in the 2019 edition of the VIVO Indian Premier League. The Caribbean all-rounder who recently celebrated his 31st birth anniversary has been the crown jewel of Kolkata Knight Riders this year.
Though Russell is at the topmost position right now, his journey to the top has not been that easy. Be it the controversial remarks he has made against the West Indies cricket board or the 1-year doping ban that he suffered, Russell has come a long way.
He started off his cricketing journey during his days in Jamaica. Aged 22, he helped his English club, Barnards Green Cricket Club secure a promotion from Worcestershire Cricket League to Birmingham League Cricket.
From Barnards Green Cricket Club to the Kolkata Knight Riders, Russell's life has taken various ups and downs. In this article, we will have a look at the 10 things that you may not know about Russell.
#10 Chris Gayle played a huge role in changing his game
During his early days in international cricket, Andre Russell was someone who was known for his big hitting but seldom only was he able to play big knocks. However, it all changed in the 2016 T20 World Cup where the Universe Boss, Chris Gayle himself went to Russell and instructed him to use bigger bats.
Reflecting on Gayle's role in his rise, the all-rounder had once said -
"I used to use lighter bats, but when you make contact with a light bat, it doesn't go anywhere. During the World Cup, he (Gayle) came to me and said, 'Russ, you're better than that. You can use bigger bats, you're strong.'
Russell used a bigger bat during the semifinal game against India and the Jamaican played a quickfire innings of 43 runs to throw the hosts out of the tournament.
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#9 Russell has played only one Test match in his career
Despite the marvelous numbers that Andre Russell has in the shorter formats of the game, it was the red-ball cricket where Russell wore the West Indies jersey for the first time. Way back in November 2010, a 22-year-old Andre Russell made his international debut against Sri Lanka. He was chosen in the playing XI as a primary fast bowler and not an all-rounder.
In his only Test innings, Russell scored mere 2 runs after coming out to bat at no. 10. Interestingly, he took 9 balls to add those 2 runs and thus, if you look at his Test numbers even today his batting strike rate column indicates the number 22.22.
With the ball, he scalped the wicket of Tillakratne Dilshan in the first innings and unfortunately, till date Dilshan remains to be his only Test wicket.
Looking at the way things have gone in the past few years, it is highly unlikely that we may see Russell in the white jersey once again.
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#8 He made his ODI debut in the 2011 ICC Cricket World Cup
While a lot of teams refrain from using young players (especially debutants) at the mega-event of cricket, West Indies took a bold step and handed Andre Russell his maiden ODI cap during the 2011 World Cup. The inexperienced Russell made his ODI debut versus Ireland and had a good outing as he dismissed Ed Joyce in that match.
The dismissal turned the game in West Indies' favor as they won the game by 46 runs. Russell even played the match against India at Chennai where he took the wickets of Harbhajan Singh and Munaf Patel. While chasing in the second innings, Russell lost his wicket for a duck.
However, Russell would have never known that eight years later, he would be entering the cricket World Cup as the biggest asset of his team.
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#7 Andre Russell might have ended up in the Mumbai Indians squad in 2014
Back in 2014, Andre Russell was not that big a match winner as he is today. He was a part of the Delhi franchise in IPL 2013 but the Jamaican had an underwhelming season and thus, Delhi released him ahead of the 2014 season.
In the auction room when Andre Russell's name came up, Mumbai Indians submitted a bid of 50 lakh INR (Russell's base price) first, just for Kolkata Knight Riders to raise it to 60 lakh and take the all-rounder home.
Never would have Mumbai Indians thought in their wildest dreams that they were committing the blunder of the decade. Such was Russell's performance for Kolkata that four years later when all the teams were being reshuffled, they decided to retain him for a price of 7 Crores INR (almost 12 times the amount he was bought at).
No one knows the way things would have turned out had Mumbai bid further for Russell in 2014.
#6 Russell got out for a duck on his T20I debut
We talked about Andre Russell's Test and ODI debut ahead, now we will move towards Russell's first international experience in the shortest format of the game. The Jamaican became the 46th player to represent West Indies in T20Is when he made his T20I debut versus Pakistan on April 21, 2011.
It was a one-off T20I encounter and Darren Sammy had elected to bat first at the toss. West Indies got off to a rollicking start as Lendl Simmons and Darren Bravo took the team to a stable position. West Indies were 102/1 after 12.1 overs but their innings derailed after that partnership broke.
Soon, they were reduced to 141/6 in 19 overs as a young Russell came out to bat for the first time in a T20I. Facing Wahab Riaz in the final over, Russell played two dots before handing a catch to A Rehman to end his maiden T20I innings without adding anything to the team's total.
With the ball, he conceded 28 runs in 4 wicketless overs. However, Windies won the match by 7 runs.
#5 He was the first bowler to take 4 wickets in 4 balls in T20s
While Andre Russell has earned name and fame as a batting all-rounder in the last two years, he had established himself as one of the top fast bowlers of the T20 era way back in 2013. In the match against India A, Russell took 4 consecutive wickets to shift the momentum in his team's favor.
The flamboyant pacer accomplished this record at Bengaluru in a one-off List A T20 versus India A. In the 19th over of the India A innings, he sent the likes of Yuvraj Singh, Kedar Jadhav, Naman Ojha, and Yusuf Pathan back to the pavilion in the space of 4 deliveries.
Though India A scored 214 in that innings, it was Russell's fast bowling which grabbed the headlines.
#4 Andre Russell is an emotional man
Andre Russell has always portrayed himself as a fearless guy on the field. On many occasions, he has inflicted his own fear in the minds of opposition bowlers. However, not many know about the emotional Andre Russell.
In one his recent interviews, the all-rounder revealed how Kolkata Knight Riders CEO, Venky Mysore's call to retain him despite his one-year ban made him cry. He said:
"When I got banned in 2017, I was depressed. I do not cry easily, but to see Venky Mysore [KKR CEO] take up the phone and say they were going to retain me through that time, water filled my eyes. They know me, that's the thing about family. I owe these performances to them."
He gave the entire credit of his success to Kolkata Knight Riders.
Thus, it was proved here that even though Russell looks like a big muscular guy on our TV screens, the man has a very soft heart for his loved ones.
#3 He is one of the only two players to have scored a century and taken a hattrick in the same T20 match
When the T20 format was new to the cricket universe, no one would have imagined that a player could score a hundred in a 20 overs innings. Also for the bowlers it was thought that we may rarely see a hat-trick in the shortest format.
However, this man defied all odds in the 2018 edition of the Caribbean Premier League tournament and achieved both these feats in the same match. Though he was not the first man to do so, his match-winning century in the second innings of that game earned more spotlight.
For the ones who are about to search for the first man to score a hundred and take a hattrick in the same T20, Russell's KKR teammate Joe Denly was the first man to do so.
#2 Dre Russ is a recording artist
A lot of people (including myself) believed that the Kolkata Knight Riders fan armies gave Andre Russell his popular nickname 'Dre Russ'. However, that is not the case in reality as the legend himself had coined the nickname way back in 2014.
Dre Russ is a recording artist who tried his hand in the singing department as well just like Dwayne Bravo's DJ Bravo avatar. But, Dre Russ soon stopped recording videos as he shifted his focus back to cricket.
He uploaded 2 songs with the names 'Sweat Whine' and 'Sweet Heart' in his 2014-15. Looking at the success that Dre Russ has achieved now on the cricket field, he may have a thought at the back of his mind to restart his work as a rapper.
Russell has even stated in his Instagram bio that apart from being a professional cricketer, he is also a recording artist.
#1 Andre Russell idolizes National Football League players
Andre Russell's batting strike rate has gone up by leaps and bounds of late and as mentioned ahead, Chris Gayle had a big role to play in this change. Well, apart from that minor change that Russell made, there was also a major change that he made in his off-field routine.
Dre Russ made significant changes in his work-out routine after he watched the NFL players' workout routine. He disclosed the secret behind his fitness and stated that:
"I train hard. I work hard in the gym, like a beast. A lot of power work. Because the stronger you are, the easier you're going to hit certain balls."
He even revealed that he watched the NFL players train in Dallas. The next day, he started following their routine as they train with higher intensity.
Which was the most interesting thing that you learnt about Russell here? Let us know in the comments box below.