“He is a billion-dollar man for Kolkata."
Chris Lynn said of Andre Russell amidst the harakiri he was creating in the Indian T20 League in 2019. It was anything but new. Russell was always a force of nature, someone who could take the thorn, the leaf and the flower out of the bowling stem of the opposition. But 2019 was special.
Only four batsmen have scored at a strike rate of over 200 in a T20 competition (at least 10 innings). Russell did it twice, once in the Indian T20 League and once in the Caribbean Premium League. New Zealand's Colin de Grandhomme for Auckland Aces in the HRV Cup in 2010 tops the list with a strike rate of 213.24. Russell managed a strike-rate of 204.82. No, but he isn't the second-best.
Russell averaged a whopping 56.67 in the league last season, making 510 runs in 14 innings. No batsman has ever averaged 50-plus and scored at a rate of 200-plus in one season of a T20 tournament. Russell's blitz included an outrageous knock against Bangalore where he helped chase down 54 runs in the last three overs. A 13-ball 48 was his contribution!
|Big Bash League||19||296||21||21.14||166.29|
|Bangladesh Premier League||44||751||62||35.76||165.42|
|Champions League Twenty20||6||65||5||21.67||180.56|
|Caribbean Premier League||57||1109||87||30.81||181.21|
|Indian T20 League||64||1400||120||33.33||186.42|
|Pakistan Super League||18||160||9||11.43||131.15|
|Ram Slam T20 Challenge||18||371||33||33.73||197.34|
|NatWest t20 Blast||12||335||23||33.5||165.84|
|ICC Men's T20 World Cup||17||133||8||19||138.54|
In the season, Russell struck a six every 5th ball on an average. He hit 52 sixes in the season for Kolkata. What makes him an unrestrained beast in this format is his adaptability across leagues, across innings, across different kinds of bowlers and batting positions.
He strikes at an almost similar rate across both innings of a T20, slightly deadlier in run-chases. In 10 T20 tournaments including the T20 World Cup, Russell has a strike rate of 160-plus in seven. In the Indian T20 League plus CPL alone, he totals over 200 sixes.
In a format that is quickly drifting to controlled aggression and subtle 360° techniques, Russell is a complete outlier, a monster capable of just relying on power and clearing the rope nine out of ten times when he wants it to.
Feature image courtesy: AFP / Dibyangshu Sarkar