Andre Russell returns to cricket, BBL franchises vying for his signature

Star West Indian all-rounder Andre Russell’s return to the cricketing field has put every Big Bash League (BBL) club on a high alert as the maverick Jamaican is yet to sign a contract to mark his return to Australia’s domestic T20 league next season. Russell was banned for one year from cricket for a whereabouts clause violation by an independent anti-doping panel in Kingston. The ban was effective from January 31, 2017 and expired on January 30, 2018.

Ban on Andre Russell had halted his PSL, IPL, CPL and BBL campaigns 

Owing to his ban, Andre Russell was unable to take part in the PSL, the IPL, the CPL and the BBL last season. The controversial all-rounder was previously on a two-year deal with the Sydney Thunder franchise in Australia and played 15 BBL games for the team. Russell was also influential in the Thunder’s charge to the BBL 05 title.

Presumably so, Sydney Thunder are keen to strike a deal to bring Russell back to the franchise, but are understood to be just one of several BBL clubs chasing the all-rounder. The clamour around getting Russell onboard is completely justified given the fact that the Jamaican has a happy knack of leading his teams to T20 title wins. Apart from his BBL title, he’s also won competitions in India, Bangladesh, Pakistan and the Caribbean as well as the World T20 with the West Indies.

Having served his one-year ban, Russell marked his return to competitive cricket by turning out for the Jamaican Scorpions in the Windies’ domestic Super 50 Cup, also scoring an unbeaten 108 in his last outing. He is now headed to Dubai to represent Islamabad United in the Pakistan Super League (PSL).

Speaking to First Post, Russell also revealed that his IPL club Kolkata Knight Riders had played a big role in getting him back on the field as the franchise provided him personal training staff and a promise to retain him ahead of the upcoming edition of the IPL.

“These Super50 games I’ve played – it was good that KKR remained part of my comeback process and sent a sports therapist to assist me in the tournament to make sure I was in top physical condition and I thank them for that. After I got banned last year, maybe a week after, KKR reached out and we negotiated that I would be signed this year on return,” he told First Post.

The dynamic all-rounder also shed some light on the criticism he has been cropping up for not being available to play for the West Indies while they are locked in battle at the World Cup Qualifiers tournament in Zimbabwe. Like compatriots Sunil Narine, Kieron Pollard and Dwayne Bravo, Russell will instead be playing in the PSL during this time.

“I’ve seen the comments bashing me, saying that I am not interested in playing for West Indies and turned my back on the team. I would never do that. West Indies made me who I am at this moment and I’m not going to burn my bridges,” Andre Russell clarified, as reported by Cricket Australia.