Russell makes Renegades return, fears T10 influence

After touching down in Melbourne for BBL|12 after a stint in the UAE T10 league, the West Indies superstar says he fears the even shorter format of the game could threaten T20 cricket

Melbourne Renegades recruit Andre Russell has touched down in Australia with a warning for fans of T20 cricket: T10 has the potential to take over.

Russell, who will play four games with the Renegades at the start of their BBL|12 campaign, believes the proliferation of T10 cricket could threaten the current dominance of the T20 format.

The Jamaican came to Australia via London over the weekend ahead of the start of the Renegades season later this week, after playing in the UAE for the Deccan Gladiators in the Abu Dhabi T10 league.

The UAE’s T10 league began back in 2017, with the ICC officially sanctioning it as the first of its kind.

Cricket West Indies then became the first full-member board to start its own league – called the 6ixty – while Sri Lanka and Zimbabwe have announced plans to start their own T10 competitions in 2023.

Russell said the short formats of the game were continually evolving, evidenced by the big totals seen in the UAE league, with teams regularly posting above 120 and 130.

Such an evolution, he added, could even see the ultra-short format competing with T20s for space on the cricket calendar.

"To be honest, it (T10 cricket) can be (a threat), because you can watch three games in a day, it's less stress on the body and bowlers just come and bowl two overs," he told reporters today.

"T20 is always going to be ultimate, (but) I just think it's the amount of cricket at the moment (means) the players' availability (is) going to be a big issue.

"Most players, it's going to make them want to leave the longer format … with the direction T10 leagues are going, there are a lot of different T10 leagues in different parts of the world and they announced that just before the finals in Abu Dhabi.

"I just hope that players still believe in red-ball cricket, still believe in Test cricket and still want to play those formats because the older generation, they will come out and watch five days of cricket. That's where it all started.

"But the owners, organisers, everyone that's putting on these T10 leagues, they all like the excitement and they always want to see sixes and fours and wickets fall, so I hope it doesn't affect T20 cricket."

In the meantime, Russell looms as a key addition for the Renegades in the opening phase of BBL|12. Despite only reaching double figures twice in his seven innings with the victorious Gladiators, the 34-year-old says he is striking the ball well and that the fickle nature of T20 cricket, let alone T10 cricket, means things can change extremely quickly.

"I didn't really get enough chance to be in the T10 tournament recently, but I know that doesn't take anything away from my skills and anything I know I can do," he said.

"It's just (about) how to bounce back, to do the right things and to stay positive.

"The T10 league in Abu Dhabi, that was a fast-paced game where you just go out and express yourself.

"So hopefully whatever amount of overs I get to go in, I can maximise that."

While he will spend less than two weeks in Australia, Russell will venture all around the country for his quartet of games, starting in Cairns against the Brisbane Heat on Thursday night.

The West Indies power hitter will then play his sole game at Marvel Stadium on Sunday night – where he suggested hitting the roof is not out of the question – before another home game in Geelong, and a Christmas Eve clash against the Hurricanes in Hobart.

Dre-Russ goes 'loooong' in blistering knock

It is this packed schedule, and an assurance in the experience and quality he can bring to a Renegades line-up that has been glued to the bottom of the table in recent seasons, that has Russell ready to heap the responsibility on his own shoulders.

"I always tried to put myself in the firing line, whichever team I play for," he said.

"This year for four games I'm definitely looking forward to giving the team a good start and hopefully set them on their way.

"It's been a couple of years now since I've put on this colour and this is where the Big Bash started for me as well so I'm definitely looking forward to making sure that we start off on the right foot."

BBL|12 will be Russell's fifth season in the competition and second with the Gades after he briefly played with them in BBL|04.

Image Id: BEF3EBCC13BF408C9C3BDF516D3EAEB2 Image Caption: Russell plays for the Renegades in BBL|04 // Getty

He was a more permanent fixture for the Sydney Thunder in the next two seasons and helped them to an inaugural title in the fifth edition of the Big Bash, while he played five games for the Stars last season.

It's why – despite not being selected in the international player draft in August – the allrounder had no hesitation in making himself available for this season and continuing his connection with the BBL.

Russell's action-packed first ball

"To be honest, I was expecting to get picked (in the draft), but they explain to my agent what went down and I'm OK with it," he said.

"The most important thing is I'm here in the Melbourne Renegades kit … and I'm happy to be here.

"It means a lot (to be in the Big Bash). The professionalism, the league, the stadiums and to see a lot of kids in the stands as well, for me that's something that I would take an hour after a game to sign signatures, take pictures and give them back to the youngsters.

"It's fun coming back out here and I'm looking forward to making sure that the crowd get what they've come out to watch."

Russell said he was excited to add to the mixture of experience and youth that the Renegades have on their list this season and hoped it would be the side's strength.

"We have a good team and I'm really looking forward to meeting the guys and gelling as quick as possible," he said.

"The team that they have this year is a lot is a lot more all around when I look at 'Finchy' (Aaron Finch) at the top, (Nic) Maddison as skipper, I just think that with all the experience that these guys been showcasing over the years and all the good youngsters coming up as well we have to make sure that we just look to start off as well as possible.

"Four games is like the start of the tournament, so I'm trying to enjoy every game and take it one step at a time."