Pundits doubt Russell change of heart
Former Jamaica cricketers Nehemiah Perry and Wayne Lewis say that the Jamaica Tallawahs will have a hard task convincing all-rounder Andre Russell to stay with the franchise for the Caribbean Premier League (CPL) next season.
Although the Tallawahs managed to make the final four of the competition this year after finishing bottom of the table last season, they only managed to register three wins from 10 games in the campaign. They were defeated by eventual champions Trinbago Knight Riders in the semi-finals.
Citing irreconcilable differences with management, Russell said in April that 2020 would be his last season with the team when his contract expires. This announcement was after former teammate Chris Gayle’s public spat with the team after his services were not retained despite two years remaining on his contract.
Perry says that while Russell would like to continue playing CPL cricket in Jamaica, he is not confident that the Tallawahs can offer the unifying atmosphere necessary for him to change his mind about leaving.
“I believe his heart and his mind is with Jamaica to stay here and play his cricket,” Perry said. “But at the end of the day, we must create that type of environment that will allow for unity, and I don’t think we are able to do that.”
Russell made his frustrations with the team known on Instagram five months ago, criticising a lack of communication from management as well as an unprofessional environment.
While unsure if efforts were made to repair the relationship during the tournament, Lewis says that Russell will be playing elsewhere next year if the conflict is not resolved.
“It’s going to take a lot of discussions behind the scenes,” Lewis said. “I don’t know what transpired this year. I don’t know if they made up at some stage. I don’t know if that happened. But if the relationship continues to be tense, then I can’t see that happening for next year.”
Russell made nine appearances for the Tallawahs this season but has been affected by a knee injury during the campaign. He scored 222 total runs for the season, with his best batting effort being 54 against the Barbados Tridents on September 5.
Although Perry has concerns about Russell’s fitness, specifically regarding his knee, he says that Russell should re-evaluate his decision to leave the team. However, he says that a serious personnel overhaul by the Tallawahs will be necessary for them to be competitive.
“I still believe that he should rethink and to think about staying with the Tallawahs, but the Tallawahs need some shake-up,” he said. “I think we need a new injection of players, some good match winners, and so forth. The owners will have a lot to think about how they can create that kind of environment that persons would come and enjoy their cricket.”
Russell is now in the United Arab Emirates preparing for the 2020 Indian Premier League campaign with the Kolkata Knight Riders. The season starts on Saturday.