Gibson big on Russell
If coach Ottis Gibson and the West Indies camp have their way there could be a new Kieron Pollard emerging, just in time to help the regional side retain the T20 World Cup to be contested in Bangladesh over the next couple weeks.
With the T20 star on the injured list and missing out on the World T20, more responsibility has been placed on Andre Russell but he has only had modest success in the recent matches against Ireland and England.
Russell scored 23 runs with a highest score of 15 in the two T20s against Ireland in which he came in at number six. Against England he batted at number five on two occasions while coming to the crease at number six in his other innings.
His highest score in the T20s at Kensington Oval was an unbeaten 24 out of an aggregate in three innings of 26.
“When you watch him (Russell) in the CPL (Caribbean Premier League) he had a really good CPL for Jamaica with the bat. He made important runs for them. We are missing Pollard and he’s a big loss for us because he is one of our key men in those middle overs,” coach Ottis Gibson explained.
“We’re trying to give Russell the opportunity to fill that Pollard role. I guess you have to give him time. It’s something he has to grow into,” said Gibson.
“He has played the three games during the series. I’ll sit down with him and assess, let him know how I think he has gone and what else he needs to do, if he is going do it the way Pollard has done for us in the past. We believe strongly in Russell.
“We believe that he has got the capabilities to do it. He has got the game, he’s got the power to do that job. So we have to continue to back him up and give him the support that he needs,” Gibson said.
Looking at the broader picture Gibson believes the three-match series was a valuable exercise as they move into the final stages of preparation before the defence of the World T20.
“These three games were a good indicator for us as to where we are as a group,” Gibson told the media following the completion of the series on Thursday.
“We know that it’s going to be a tough job to retain the World Cup but as we’ve seen from these three games that we played over the last couple of days, we’re in a good place at the moment. The team is in a good place.
“This series gives us a good opportunity to sit down as coaches and what we’ll do now is look at where we need to tweak the bowling, what we need to look at with the batting and what we do to improve as a fielding team.
“The group is gelling well also. So once we get over there and get ourselves settled then the players are well aware of the opportunity in front them to do something really special,” Gibson said.