Dre Russ has 'been to hell and back'
Sydney Thunder legend and Director of Cricket Mike Hussey reveals his empathy for Andre Russell after a disastrous KFC BBL campaign
8 January 2017, 05:33 PM AEST
Sydney Thunder Director of Cricket Mike Hussey says injured allrounder Andre Russell has "been to hell and back" dealing with his battered body and an anti-doping charge that threatens his immediate playing future.
Russell was ruled out of the remainder KFC Big Bash League on Thursday after suffering a hamstring injury in the Thunder's thrilling last-ball win over the Melbourne Stars, ending a turbulent season that started with doubt about his playing availability, the controversy around his coloured bat and a persistent leg issue that suppressed his incredible athleticism.
Also hanging over Russell's head is a possible two-year ban from the game after he was hit with a 'whereabouts rule' violation by the Jamaica Anti-Doping Commission (JADCO) from either missing three drug tests or providing accurate whereabouts information within an 18-month period.
In the past 12 months alone, Russell has lived the life of a globe-trotting T20 maverick, playing tournaments in Australia, India, England, Bangladesh, and the Caribbean; moving from country to country, cricket ground to cricket ground via car, bus and plane.
Now his turbulent BBL campaign has ended, Hussey hopes the 29-year-old he rests and recovers his mind just as much as his body.
"I feel for him," Hussey told cricket.com.au. "He's been going through a really tough time of late with all the 'whereabout' saga going on and he's been waiting to hear the finding of that hearing.
"I want him to go away and get better physically but also mentally.
"Hopefully get this saga over and behind him, he gets cleared and he can get on living his life and getting back to really enjoying his cricket again.
"He's been to hell and back.
"I have a lot for empathy for him, not as in I know what he's feeling, but I think at times people are too quick to judge him.
"He's gone through a really tough time and I just want him to get better and get his life back on track."
While his damaged hamstring was the telling blow that ended his tournament, Russell was fighting another "strange" injury that had him limping after each searing delivery and frantic sprint.
"I don't know how to explain it; below the knee, on the right-hand side but not in the calf but on the side," Hussey said.
"It comes and goes. He's been battling it for quite a period of time now.
"We knew he'd been battling on and off with it for 18 months but it was hard to diagnose for one and then two, one day it feels 100 per cent he doesn't feel anything and the next day it can flare up and be uncomfortable.
"I think it was getting to the stage when more often it was getting more uncomfortable.
"He battled through certain stages in last season for us as well.
"I don't know if it was exactly the same thing or related stuff, who knows.
"He's a fast bowler and not too many fast bowlers play at 100 per cent these days.
"He's a big loss because Andre at his best is probably the most destructive allrounder in T20 cricket in the world."
In Russell's place is fellow West Indian Carlos Brathwaite. Remember that name?
Brathwaite was the colossus that bossed England allrounder Ben Stokes for four consecutive sixes to snatch the 2016 World T20 title from the jaws of defeat at Eden Gardens.
However, Hussey was afraid the Brathwaite might slip the Thunder's grip having had the 28-year-old as back-up for Russell for quite some time.
"We've been having contingency plans in place because we were expecting to find out the findings of the (whereabouts) hearing months ago but it's been dragging out," Hussey said.
"We've had to have things in place in case the worst case scenario that Andre gets suspended.
"We hope he doesn't but we had to be prepared for that.
"We've had Carlos Brathwaite lined up for a while.
"We got a bit nervous because I think Hobart Hurricanes were a bit interested as well.
"And then when (Dwayne) Bravo went down injured I think the Renegades started talking about him.
"We were getting a bit nervous so again we were trying to come up with more contingency plans if Brathwaite became unavailable as well.
"But thankfully he was really keen to come to Sydney.
"We remember what he did at the T20 World Cup, what he did to England, hopefully he can bring some of that stuff to the Thunder."
While Brathwaite doesn't possess the same raw pace with the ball of Russell, the towering allrounder makes up with it in size and strength.
Australian fans will remember the right-hander's rapid 69 from 71 balls at the SCG 12 months ago where he launched four maximums in a rearguard innings in what turned out to be an inevitable draw.
Hussey is excited to see the Thunder's new recruit in action as the defending champions fight to keep their BBL|06 campaign alive.
"For a big guy he's actually a proper batsman as well," he said.
"He plays the short ball really well, he play proper cricket shots, he's not just an out-and-out slogger but he's got power to go with it as well.
"I think bowlers around the country will find him very difficult to bowl to and so that's a real asset to us.
"His bowling is solid as well. Having top-quality all-rounders are really hard to find and it adds so much balance and options to the team.
"You've got Watto in there and Brathwaite, two top-class batters and two top-class bowlers as well.
"That means you can play around with the other combinations in the team and it makes a really nice balance."