Tallawahs must keep Russell – Lewis
Former national cricketer Wayne Lewis believes that it would be a “massive” blow for the Jamaica Tallawahs should all-rounder Andre Russell not return to the franchise after the 2020 Caribbean Premier League (CPL) Twenty20 (T20) cricket season.
The team made a major change to improve on their 2019 campaign, where they finished bottom of the standings, choosing not to retain Chris Gayle, who signed with the St Lucia Zouks last week. Head coach Donovan Miller and manager Andrew Richardson also left the team recently.
Russell said on Instagram last week that because of irreconcilable differences with management, 2020 would be his final season with the team after his contract expires. This was a day after Gayle spoke about his departure on YouTube, criticising the management and assistant coach Ramnaresh Sarwan. Tallawahs management and Sarwan have both since released statements, denying the claims against them.
Lewis says that the Tallawahs will lose one of their fan favourites if Russell, 32 years old, does not return.
“He’s a crowd puller for the Tallawahs,” Lewis said. “When he plays at home, a lot more persons will come and watch him play. From an economic standpoint, it’s going to be a big blow for them. Can they get a player of his calibre to replace him? I doubt that very much.”
Russell returned to the team as captain in 2018 after serving a one-year suspension from a doping violation. He only managed to play in five games in 2019 before injury ruled him out for the rest of the tournament. The Tallawahs only registered two wins from 10 games last season.
Lewis says that the franchise has to do what it can to repair the fractured relationship between both parties to keep him playing for Jamaica.
“If he is going somewhere else, then we are going to be robbed of that and [because of] the revenue situation with the Tallawahs, they must be mindful about that and, therefore, they need to work things out with him,” he said. “It’s not good for the Tallawahs, it’s not good for the Jamaican people.
“I hope that they work it out so they can keep him and that we continue to enjoy and watch him play while he is performing at a high level, taking brilliant catches, running out people, hitting sixes. He is a winner. He is the number one T20 player in the world, and he is playing at home, and Jamaicans love to watch him play. We want to see him at least five times in the CPL every year.”