Russell said he changed his mind on New Zealand tour but ship had already sailed

By December 10, 2020

West Indies all-rounder Andre Russell said he had changed his mind about travelling with the West Indies to New Zealand for their three-match T20 series but by the time he did, the team had already been selected and he was unable to join.

The 31-year-old Jamaica has been largely criticized for declining to join the West Indies team with former fast bowler Sir Curtly Ambrose questioning the player’s commitment to the regional side.

Russell had initially declined the invitation to represent the West Indies in New Zealand citing the need to be free of the Covid-19 lockdown protocols he had to endure during the 2020 Hero CPL season in Trinidad and Tobago, and the subsequent IPL season in Abu Dhabi.

However, shortly thereafter it was reported that Russell had signed for the Colombo Kings in Sir Lanka’s T20 Premier League (LPL).

His actions triggered the ire of many fans across the region as well as West Indies fast bowling great Sir Curtly Ambrose.

“Because he wants to clear his head for a while to get his mind together, I have no problem with that because cricket is a high-pressure game. So if you want to clear your head for a while, take your mind off cricket I have no issues with that, but if you are going to reject playing for your nation, your country, and then two weeks later you’re playing for somebody else, that to me is a no-no,” Ambrose said during a recent conversation on the Mason&Guest radio show in Barbados.

“Where is the commitment? That tells me that you don’t want to play for the West Indies. If that is the case, just say so.”

However, while speaking on the Sportsmax Zone on Tuesday, Russell explained why he ended up playing in Sri Lanka while the West Indies were losing their series 2-0 in New Zealand. He claimed the pressure of living in the bubble was too much.

"I changed my stance. I changed my technique. I changed my trigger movement, all of these things I changed just to score runs in IPL and nothing was going my way. The pressure was real," Russell said, who failed to live up to expectation in both leagues. “Playing cricket in a bubble and you're not performing, it can really take a toll.”

He said he had conversations with Shimron Hetmyer and Keemo Paul, who explained that after the initial 14-day quarantine in New Zealand, the restrictions would have been relaxed. It was after that conversation that he said he approached the selectors but by then it was too late.

 After his missed opportunity to join the West Indies squad, Russell said he received a text message from Angelo Matthews while he was in Dubai asking him to play for the Colombo Kings. He said he accepted the offer adding that the time off he spent in Dubai helped give him the mental strength to go back into a bubble.

Leighton Levy

Leighton Levy is a journalist with 28 years’ experience covering crime, entertainment, and sports. He joined the staff at SportsMax.TV as a content editor two years ago and is enjoying the experience of developing sports content and new ideas. At SportsMax.tv he is pursuing his true passion - sports.

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