Russell credits CPL for improvements
Jamaica Tallawahs all-rounder André Russell enters this year's renewal of the Hero Caribbean Premier League in the form of his life. The 27-year-old power-hitter, playing for the Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) in the Indian Premier League (IPL) that ended last month, had the most impressive of his four seasons in the IPL.
Batting down the order, he smashed 326 runs in 13 innings at an average of 36.22 and an incredible strike rate of 192.89. For his outstanding season, Russell was named the MVP of the IPL for 2015 at the end-of-season awards ceremony in May. He also won the award for scoring the fastest 50 of the season.
But Russell revealed that growing self-confidence from being able to play consistently in the CPL helped him deliver in the IPL this year.
"I just think my confidence has grown a lot from my first year of the CPL, playing a full tournament and knowing that whether you fail or you perform, you were going to be playing the next game. That had a lot to do with the way I have improved," he said.
The Jamaican, who was signed by the Delhi franchise at the IPL Player Auction in 2012, only played seven games before being signed by KKR in 2014. He played three games for them prior to the 2015 season and was less than impressive.
"Getting opportunities to play in the IPL for the last few years and not getting a chance to really prove myself and playing under pressure as well, turning up to play and thinking if I don't perform, I am going to be dropped for the next game, these things don't really matter to me while I am playing for the Tallawahs, who gave me a chance to express myself, hitting those big sixes and doing all these fancy things on the field that people love to see," he said.
The spectacular - for which he has become known - did not occur by chance. They have come about because of the work he has put in off the field.
"I go into the nets and I hit from ball one and I work out just like I play a game. I just think when you practise like that, it becomes a bit easier in the game," he said.
Russell was just as effective with the ball during his MVP IPL season. Whereas he only took two wickets in his first three seasons in the IPL, in 2015, he claimed 14 wickets at an average of 23.14 and at an economy rate of 7.96. He credits a lot of strength work and a strong mind for his success.
"You can't be too strong, and since I started doing that extra work, I have been bowling a bit faster and more consistently," he said.