40West Indies Twenty20 star Andre Russell says his time away from the sport serving a one-year anti-doping whereabouts ban had taught him humility, and stressed he was now fit and confident to continue his successful return.
The Jamaican failed to file his whereabouts on three separate occasions within a 12-month period, a violation that constitutes a positive drugs test, and was subsequently banned by anti-doping authorities from January last year.
However, Russell returned to action last February, slamming a hundred for his native Jamaica Scorpions in the West Indies domestic 50-overs competition before turning out in the Pakistan Super League and more recently, resuming his contract with Kolkata Knight Riders in the Indian Premier League.
“I think the last one year has made me a different person. I have learnt how to be humble,” Russell was quoted as saying.
“I need to make sure that you stay on top of what you are doing as a professional and yet be humble. I just want to ensure that these things don’t happen again.”
The 29-year-old seems to have lost little of his ability which made him one of the most sought-after players on the international T20 circuit.
On Tuesday, he blasted an unbeaten 88 off 36 deliveries for KKR in only his second game back — the highest-ever score by a number seven batsman or lower in the league.
Russell said his fitness and state of mind had been key to his strong return.
“I think I am confident at the moment. In any sport you play, it is important to be confident,” he pointed out.
“I am in good condition and have worked hard on my game. I am happy with the way I am striking and the pace with which I am bowling.”
During Tuesday’s innings, Russell belted a four and 11 sixes — equalling the record for the most sixes in an individual innings of less than a hundred.
He also got stuck into Windies teammate Dwayne Bravo, lashing the right-arm seamer for 41 runs in three overs which leaked 50 runs overall.
Russell said all the Windies players campaigning in the IPL tended to target each other, though all were great friends.
“I think if I bowl to him, he would do the same thing. We are from West Indies and good friends,” he pointed out.
“If I am playing against Sunil Narine I will try to hit each ball out of the park. It is just that in a game we go hard against each other and once we are off the field, we are good friends.”