West Indies Star all-rounder Andre Russell feels individual ego and lack of communication from the board and the team management are the main reasons for the two-time champions’ dismal performance in the Twenty20 World Cup.
Two-time champions West Indies were dumped out of the ICC event after the Pooran-led side finished bottom in the group stage at the T20 World Cup.
The West Indies side suffered embarrassing defeats at the hands of Scotland and Ireland as the former champions failed to enter the Super 12 phase of the T20 World Cup in Australia.
In an exclusive interview with Gulf News, Dre Russ, said:
“I am very disappointed with West Indies’ performance in Twenty20 World Cup. No one went with the mindset not to qualify for Super 12, but at the end of the day it is the poor selection. Can’t blame the players, they tried their best. I am not saying anything because I wasn’t part of the squad.
“Knowing what I have done in international cricket, I am going to back my talent and maybe we would have qualified for Super 12. Maybe a few other players are part of the squad, they could have come to the party. Not saying we would have won the World Cup, but being in the Super 12 gives you every chance. We are two-time champions and was I part of the it, we know what to do on the big stage. That’s the reason I am so disappointed,” he added
One of the reasons for the loss is that the West Indies didn’t pick some of the best in the business, that includes Russell, Sunil Narine and Shimron Hetmyer, who have been playing franchise cricket across the world.
“Let me be straightforward and honest, too much ego is involved. West Indies was the No 1 team in the world in T20 a few years ago and now we have to play qualifiers. Our cricket is going backwards, because they are not picking the best players, forcing good and active players to retire because of the system,” Russell said with regret writ large on his face.
Russell went on to add how he missed the lure of money with several franchise leagues to play for the West Indies and how badly he was treated by past players.
“For me it was a simple decision that did not go according to plan. A few years ago, me, [skipper Kieron] Pollard and [head coach Phil] Simmons had a zoom call and they all mentioned the importance of the seniors players in the squad and I was excited to see the direction they were going. They wanted to know our schedule in advance for what series we were available and not available for. It was a straight-up decision.
“The guys who are involved now are the same guys who were involved then. The only change is chairman of selectors, Desmond Haynes. He didn’t know the conversation that happened two years ago. Disappointed that the coach was part of the call and he didn’t utter a word on what had planned before. They said four series were coming up during that period — India, Bangladesh, New Zealand and one before the World Cup in Australia, of which one or two series I am going to miss, because I am not on central contract with West Indies. I am not getting paid 100 per cent like others.”
“For me, playing for West Indies is important, so I said I will miss New Zealand series and I am available for the three series. So they agreed. During that period I missed a few leagues to play for West Indies, no one is looking at that. What they look at is I was missing a series to play the 100-ball in England. I am not going to allow these guys to dictate my pace,” said the 34-year-old who has played 428 Twenty20 matches across the world.
“I have no hate for them, I am just disappointed, not with any player and anyone, it’s just the guys on the board who are involved in making these decisions. Just tell me, Russ you can’t go because we want the team gelling for the World Cup and everything. They are going to tell me? No.”
Instead, the board members wanted Russell to go to Australia and then see if he was going to be picked for the World Cup.
“That was the instruction coming from the head of the board. It sounds like a set-up. So in the media they say that I chose to go and play league cricket than choosing to play for West Indies when we had the discussion months before they selected the 15-man squad. I explained to them that I will have to leave at a certain time. They said OK, but at the last minute they know they weren’t going to allow it. From the beginning just be honest, then I can prepare myself. I miss out on this money for the love of West Indies cricket,” clarified Russell.