Been back-and-forth with selectors and coaches, hungry to represent West Indies now: Andre Russell

Andre Russell hopes the positive changes being brought about at the management level in West Indies cricket will bode well for the future Getty

Andre Russell has been alone in his room for the last few days. That is a sign that things aren't going too well. That situation isn't as much a reflection of his personal state as it is of his IPL team. He is in a space, which in his own words, is 'not healthy for a professional cricketer.'

However, he has other reasons to cheer about. Russell has played only two ODIs for West Indies since the 2015 World Cup, but has now found himself in the side for the 2019 edition of the tournament. However, Russell, who has been in superb form in the ongoing edition of IPL isn't surprised by the call-up.

"I wasn't surprised that I was called to the World Cup squad," Russell said on Saturday (April 27). "I've been doing well, I've been back and forth with the selectors and the coaches back home. I know once I'm doing my work here and performing, it will lead to national duties. I wasn't focused on the World Cup. I was just making sure that whatever happened here, I was doing my best."

There is a belief that Russell's call-up to the national side has come thanks to the new the Cricket West Indies president Ricky Skerritt, who has vowed to make several changes for the betterment of the national side. However, Russell steered clear of commenting on the sudden change of stance and policies at the board level, and preferred to stick to his task instead. "I'm not a politician. I don't get into politics, I play my cricket.

"At the end of the day, politics will always win over everything else. So, I don't get deep into that. I've never met him before. (But) I hope that all of these changes will be for the good. Not only for us as cricketers but for the board, for the future and for West Indies cricket.

The disquiet, discontent and disappointment of the West Indies players, who have struggled to align themselves with the board's ideology, has been going on for more than two decades. However, in the last few years, several players have found more avenues to earn money and fame by playing cricket away from home - largely due to the T20 boom around the world.

As a result, top players from the Caribbean islands haven't been regulars for the national side, resulting in criticisms over their lack of interest in representing the West Indies. Russell brushed aside the critics and said that the World Cup will provide them a chance to redeem their pride of playing for West Indies.

"I'm so hungry now to represent the West Indies," he said. "The last time I joined the West Indies team was recently when I had taken two injections to better my knee and it flared up again. I was so upset. I was watching the game against England and couldn't do anything about it. But as I said, I'm so hungry right now to play for West Indies like I'm doing here, hit sixes and score centuries.

Brushing aside the criticism, he said, "A lot of fans have been saying a lot of things. That's all they do. They don't know what it is like to play with injuries and play in situations where you're not comfortable. If you keep playing for your country and you're not comfortable then the performances won't show as it shows here in franchise cricket. I think what has been happening all over the world in T20 leagues, (is that) we have been treated like royalties and we haven't been treated like that among our Caribbean team. That's where it should be more fun because we speak the same language, we can be ourselves and stuff."

The all-rounder also went on to praise the support he sees cricketers receive in India as compared to Jamaica or the rest of the Caribbean nations. "We keep losing games after games and the stadium is always full. It's amazing," he said. "In Caribbean, while playing for West Indies or playing for Jamaica, if we lose six games in a row, you're not gonna see no fans. You will see a few die-hard fans but you won't see the stadiums full like this. People gonna say 'you are not playing good cricket'.

"The love and joy for cricket in India is different. People just come out to watch cricket. Even KKR fans some times turn against us because it's Dhoni. And it's fine. Whenever Bangalore play here, it's Kohli. The same guys who wear KKR jersey turn up in a red jersey.

"Just quoting Bangalore but it is the love for cricket (across the country). You wouldn't expect that after winning a game away, beating their own team in their own backyard. And you go to the hotel and they are waving at you. But we just beat your team! They don't take it personally. It's not like English football teams where the guys get into fights and all sorts of things. It is just amazing."