Simmons supports Russell - Tallawahs new boy backs embattled Jamaican cricketer
Newly signed Jamaica Tallawahs batsman Lendl Simmons has thrown his support behind sidelined West Indies all-rounder Andre Russell, describing his one-year suspension as harsh, while backing him to learn from the situation.
Russell was last month suspended for one year by a local independent anti-doping disciplinary panel for missing three doping tests in one year, and Simmons, who was drafted by the defending Caribbean Premier League champions last Friday in Barbados, believes the Jamaican's absence will be felt.
Russell may well face a longer period away from the game with the Jamaica Anti-Doping Agency pushing for the maximum two-year sentence after recently filing an appeal.
"Not having (Andre) Russell is a very big blow," Simmons told The Gleaner during a recent interview. "I think it's a big loss for us and to the cricketing world in general, specifically in the Twenty20 arena."
"I personally think it (suspension) is very harsh, but it is done already, and I hope he is dealing with it well," added Simmons, who was drafted by the Tallawahs at the number one spot as a replacement for the departed Chris Gayle ahead of this Summer's tournament.
MISSING A YEAR
"To miss a whole year of cricket is very hard, especially when you know you are making your living off cricket and you have a family to feed and whatever," Simmons added.
The Trinidad and Tobago star, who last year represented the St Kitts and Nevis Patriots after three successful years with the Guyana Amazon Warriors, says he speaks regularly with Russell and is expecting him to bounce back positively from the lay-off.
"I know he will come back strong and he has been training hard. I spoke to him earlier, so I know he is training and doing what he has to do to keep fit and come back and represent Tallawahs, West Indies and whoever he plays for in franchise cricket," said Simmons.
Meanwhile, Simmons, who has already expressed his excitement about representing the Jamaican franchise later this year, is looking forward to being a part of the team's carnival vibe and hopes to play his part in continued success.
"I see the way the Tallawahs play their cricket, how they celebrate when they win, I guess everyone who plays for the franchise is pretty much happy. For the past couple of years, they have been in the top four all the time, and I think we have a good team that can continue to be successful," said Simmons.
Other big-name players in the team include Kumar Sangakkara, Shakib Al Hasan, Imad Wasim, Mohammad Sami and fast-rising Jamaican Rovman Powell.