Thunder sweating as Russell awaits fate
SYDNEY, Australia (CMC):
Sydney Thunder have been left sweating on the availability of Andre Russell for this season's Big Bash campaign, as the explosive West Indies all-rounder awaits his fate from Jamaica's Anti-Doping Disciplinary Panel.
The Thunder training camp bowls off on Saturday, but there is no indication yet whether Russell will be able to suit up or if he will be slapped with a two-year ban for committing an anti-doping whereabouts violation.
He missed three drug tests in a 12-month period after failing to inform authorities of his whereabouts.
The hearing to determine Russell's fate concluded recently and Thunder chief executive, Nick Cummins, said they were hopeful of a positive outcome.
"Two of the alleged filing failures were while he was playing for West Indies at the World Cup, so he was hardly hiding in a cupboard," Cummins contended.
"He was on international television representing his country. But they're the rules.
"Certainly, from what we've followed, we think there's enough evidence to exonerate him, but it's not my decision, obviously, and we'll just have to see how it goes."
Russell has emerged as one of the most sought-after players in the T20 format, and is one of a plethora of West Indies players who ply their trade in multiple foreign leagues.
A big-hitting lower-order batsman and a lively seamer who is also brilliant in the field, the 28-year-old has already played 225 T20s and made over 3,400 runs and taken 202 wickets.
Cummins said the fact Russell appeared in person before the anti-doping panel had been a good sign.
"I've spoken to him a couple of times over the journey. He feels like he's done everything he can," said Cummins.
A huge fan favourite, Russell was excellent for Thunder last season, grabbing a high 16 wickets and gathering nearly 200 runs as the franchise won their maiden Big Bash title.
The Big Bash League bowls off on December 20.