Andre Russell‘s decision to withdraw from the T20I series against India and play in the Global T20 Canada is “part of his rehabilitation plans” according to Cricket West Indies chief executive Johnny Grave.
“We cleared him fit to play in Canada as a batsman,” Grave told ESPNcricinfo. “To monitor his fitness every day, a couple of our physios are over in the GT20, so we’ve got that oversight with Andre and his knee.
“But there’s a massive difference between playing in domestic cricket to international cricket. Our fans really want to see Andre Russell at a 100% while playing here against India: batting at 100%, bowling at 100%, fielding dynamically outside the circle at 100%.”
Some eyebrows were raised when Russell suited up to take the field for Vancouver Knights on Friday, minutes after West Indies Carlos Brathwaite spoke at a press conference, where he backed Russell for continuing to attempt to take the field for West Indies in spite of his injury history.
Grave likened it to many other athletes competing at a step below the highest level to build-up match fitness. “His injuries are probably not going to be ones that are ever going to be fully solved,” Grave said. “Like many other sportsmen, like the Beckhams and the Ibrahimovics that have knee injuries, daily rehab is going to be part of his life for the rest of his playing career. We hope that he just takes our medical advice, strengthens his knee and hopefully when he’s back to 100% fitness he’ll be back wearing maroon.”
Despite the support offered by CWI through medical advice and physio consultations, Grave was also mindful of Russell being a freelance T20 cricketer. “He’s not contracted to us so we can’t tell him what to do,” he said. “He listens and takes on our advice, I know it for sure. I know that he hasn’t played in every game, he hasn’t bowled yet. So hopefully he’s listening to that medical advice and this is part of his rehab.
“He can then hopefully have a break, continue strengthening his knee. He then has the CPL and we can assess him after that. The surgery was successful and hopefully playing a few matches as a batsman in Canada is part of his rehabilitation. As he strengthens that knee, he can get back to full fitness and the player that we want him to be.”
Grave also didn’t think Russell may have to curb his bowling altogether to prolong his future. “We’re positive and thinking for the best,” Grave said. “Our thought for the moment is we want Andre to fully recover and get back to full fitness as the dynamic allrounder, but if Andre Russell has to become just a batsman, then the selectors will select him based on his performances and on that criteria.
“But at the moment, I know he wants to continue. He loves bowling. He wants to be an allrounder and hopefully he’s doing everything he can to ensure that happens by following his rehab, listening to the medical advice and taking it easy. So it’s good to see him not playing every game in Canada, managing his knee and managing his rehab.”