New Delhi: At 19, after he had completed high school, Andre Russell`s mother wanted him to pursue higher studies but all that the West Indies all-rounder wanted to do was to play cricket.
"It was a tough call as we were poor and my mother thought education would help me have a secured future. I just pleaded to my mom and told her to give four years to try out my luck in big time cricket but she was ready to give me just two years," an emotional Russell said.
"Call it destiny, at the end of two years, I wasn`t able to make it to the Jamaican team that had Chris Gayle, Marlon Samuels, Jermaine Lawson, Jerome Taylor. I told my mom that I was ready to quit and get back to studies. To my surprise, she told me to continue for one more year and that changed things for me," the 23-year-old Jamaican who has signed for Delhi Dardevils.
As luck would have it, he had led Jamaica to the one day title and got a contract to go and play league cricket in England.
"I was a local hero in Worcestershire league and my colleagues would always tell me that I would play for West Indies. One day in England, I got a call from WICB`s chairman of selectors asking me whether I would be interested in joining the West Indies A squad in England. I started doing push-ups in excitement at 3 in the morning," he recollected the incident. I was 21 then and I had kept my mom`s word."
A soft-spoken 23-year-old lad, Russell believes that patience is the key to success at the highest level, be it breaking into Delhi Daredevils` playing XI or regularly playing Test cricket. He has had only one Test appearance compared 21 ODIs and five T20 Internationals.
"It`s not easy to bowl in Test matches. I found it very tough to bowl the third spell to guys like Kumar Sangakkara and Mahela Jayawardene in humid conditions in Galle. I need to play more first-class cricket for Jamaica. Earlier, I had a big outswinger which I couldn`t control but now I have better control on my swing," Russell said.
"As far as Daredevils is concerned, there is so much quality that it`s hard to pick four players. But I am waiting to grab any opportunity that comes my way. Whether batting in last three or four overs, or bowling at death, I am ready to give my hundred percent," Russell said.
He believes that his IPL stint with the Daredevils will give him a better opportunity to prepare for World T20 in Sri Lanka.
"The conditions here are different from Australia and England. Here you can`t bully any batsman with pace but one has to be very consistent with areas where one is bowling. Here the pitches are a bit slow and deliveries tend to skid at times." Chris Gayle and Kieron Pollard have been smash hits for their respective franchises and Kevon Cooper hasn`t been bad either. Russell attributes that different types of wickets that they get in the West Indies.
"In West Indies, Port of Spain has track where the ball turns, Guyana is a wicket where the ball skids where as Kingston has fair carry. So we Caribbeans can read and adapt to conditions much better than the rest," he concluded.