Andre Russell: T10 is all about expressing yourself

The West Indian all-rounder says a clear mindset is necessary to find success in this condensed form of cricket.

Planning and going into a T20 game is way more advanced than going into a T10, because T10 is shorter, says Russell.   -  Getty Images

With 163 runs at a strike-rate of 185.22 and six wickets this season, Andre Russell has been one of the top performers with bat and ball for Northern Warriors.

In a chat with Sportstar, Russell analyses the 10-over format. One has to stay on top of one’s game from ball one, he says.

Q. How are you coping with the demands of the new format?

A. It’s a very fast-paced game. It’s faster than T20. You just have to make sure that if you’re bowling, you bowl the best 60 balls and try and have a clear mindset to do whatever you’re doing. [In] batting, you can’t face a lot of balls, you have try and think ahead of the bowler, and try and stay on top of things. If you allow five dot balls to be bowled, you’re on the back-foot. I think [hitting] that ball is our goal in T10 and getting wickets constantly is always going to put pressure on the batting team. It’s a lovely format and it’s just that we as players are expressing ourselves as well.

What does team-planning before a T10 game entail?

It’s not difficult planning for a T10 game. If you have five or six good batsmen, and five good bowlers, you already have a good thing going into the game. As long as each player understands his role and backs [his] ability -- that’s the most important thing. As a batsman, we can’t go into a game not sure what we want to do. You have to realise what the wicket is doing and how quickly you have to adjust to this situation. If you’re trying to get 120 and the wicket is a 100-wicket or a 95-wicket, don’t try to get 120. You have to try and work it out, just as you work out a T20 game. But if you realise the wicket is slow you can score as much and then that would put pressure on the team batting last.

Most teams don’t really have a meeting either, or have a meeting like with videos and getting all technical about T10. T10 is all about going out and expressing yourself, because you can plan that a batsman likes to do this, likes to hit that way, but in the middle, anything can happen.

You’ve been pretty successful in the T20 format. When you go out to bat, do you have a similar strategy for a T10 game?

You have to be even more positive playing T10 because you don’t have a lot of time – 60 deliveries. That’s all. If you get a few free hits in it, that would be great. It would be good if you can maximise and try and score as much as possible from those free hits as well. Planning and going into a T20 game is way more advanced than going into a T10, because T10 is shorter.

READ | Lasith Malinga: T10 is a good test for the bowlers

Besides the T20 format, cricket has the 100-ball format as well as the T10. What according to you is cricket’s trajectory – are the shorter formats threatening the existence of the others or is there a space for all formats?

It’s a matter of getting players interested in playing all formats. I have knee problems and my body is not equipped to play Test cricket. That’s the reason why I don’t really take part in it. Not saying I don’t respect the game, I respect Test cricket because as a youngster growing up I always wanted to play Tests. I can say that I achieved what I wanted to achieve. Apart from here doing my thing, I just hope that these formats all stay strong.


Andre Russell says that T10 is all about going out and expressing yourself, because you can plan that a batsman likes to do this, likes to hit that way, but in the middle, anything can happen.   -  FILE PHOTO/ GETTY IMAGES


How does a young player, who wants to play all three formats, keep himself physically and mentally fresh?

We have to know what we want. We have to know what we’re good at and what works best for us. Nothing is wrong if a player says: ‘I’m going to stay away from Test cricket and play the shorter format of the game.’ But then, that player cannot really have a longer span in terms of injury, especially if his body is weak towards playing five days of cricket. And then you have practice after, and you have travelling, plus games. I think for most of the players nowadays, they would have a problem with playing all formats and playing everywhere, wherever the leagues are in the world. You have to choose. You want to have T20 specialists, you’re going to have Test specialists and guys that play 50 overs and 20 overs. It just depends on what the player wants.

READ | Hashim Amla: South Africa will find its feet again, pretty soon

Is it possible for players to play all formats?

Of course, it’s possible. The younger you are, the more energy you have and the fitter your body is. You can play all formats because your body is fresh. Not much mileage has gone into your engine. For me, now that I’ve been playing first-class cricket a couple of years before getting into the Test team and after that, started having niggles, then niggles became injuries and injuries became thinking about surgery. I think once a youngster is young and he has that spirit inside that you want to play as much Test cricket as possible, [as many] one-dayers, [as many] T20s, you should not restrict yourself.

West Indies has a new leader in Kieron Pollard. According to you, what does the near future hold for West Indies cricket?

I think we’re on the right track. Things are going to take time before we actually get back to where we want. We have a good leader in Pollard. Carlos [Brathwaite] was also a good leader but I think everyone thought that West Indies needed a change. We did make a change. It’s a very good change. Pollard is a strong guy where you have that leadership in him. I’ve seen him display that once he’s in the captaincy. We have to make sure that we do what we have to do and try and give him the support that he needs.


(The writer is in Abu Dhabi on an invitation from Abu Dhabi T10 League)

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