'They underestimate me': Russell has point to prove at CWC
NOTTINGHAM, England (AP) — Andre Russell wants more than just a winner's medal at the Cricket World Cup. He is after some respect, too.
Even as the newly crowned MVP of the Indian Premier League, the West Indies allrounder feels he has a point to prove at this tournament in England.
"I have come into the team as a big hitter but a lot of people don't remember that I'm a fast bowler," Russell said on Friday, after playing a starring role in West Indies' seven-wicket win over Pakistan at the World Cup. They underestimate me.
"I have been getting jealous in the past couple of years. People have me as a medium-pacer. When I see Andre Russell come on the screen and it says I'm a medium-pacer, I think, 'Who are they talking to?'"
If he was using it as a way to motivate himself, it certainly worked against Pakistan.
His short, three-over burst delivered two wickets — including the key one of Fakhar Zaman — for just four runs and sent Pakistan tumbling from 35-1 to 45-3, sparking its capitulation to 105 all out.
Russell fired down deliveries of more than 90 mph (145 kph), with all of his first 16 deliveries short-pitched. Many flew over ducking Pakistan batsmen but were not given as wides, infuriating Pakistan fans who jeered and booed inside Trent Bridge.
It was a clear strategy from Russell and the West Indies. But it might have been borne out of some frustration, too.
"At the end of the day, I showed them I can bowl 90 (mph) and I just think they should put some respect on my name, that medium pace should go to fast," he said. "Today, as a fast bowler, you turn up and you see a nice wicket like that, it gives you vibes, energy."
In truth, Russell has little to complain. Everything is going pretty well for the player who might be the diamond in a West Indies team that could go all the way, winning a first world 50-over title since the glory days of the 1970s.
The 32-year-old Jamaican hit 52 sixes for Kolkata Knight Riders in the IPL and averaged 56, helping him collect the MVP award. A two-time world champion in Twenty20 with West Indies, he returned to the country's one-day team for this World Cup after playing just twice since the 2015 edition in Australia and New Zealand, and scored 56 off 25 balls against New Zealand in a warmup match.
He didn't need to bat against Pakistan as West Indies romped to its victory target in 13.4 overs for the loss of just three wickets, and that might be just as well.
Russell has been managing a problem in his left knee since completing a 12-month doping whereabouts suspension in January 2018, and that flared up while fielding at fine leg toward the end of Pakistan's innings. He came off the field to get some treatment but said he'll be fine to play in West Indies' next game, against Australia back at Trent Bridge on Thursday.
"Seeing the position we were in, nine wickets down, and I run to retrieve a ball and feel a little thing, so I just get off," he said. "I'm not worried."
Excitingly, Russell said he was going to bring his IPL approach to the World Cup.
"A lot of people have been asking whether I will play the same way," he said. "It's the same cricket, playing with a white ball. It's not like a test match where I have to take my time, leave alone balls.
"I'm still going to play an Andre Russell innings. If I change my game, I may get out doing something I'm not comfortable with. Being aggressive is something that's been working well."
Australia has been warned.
Steve Douglas is at www.twitter.com/sdouglas80