Bridgetown (Barbados): West Indies captain Darren Sammy and coach Ottis Gibson have backed Andre Russell to excel in his new role as the Jamaican all-rounder struggles to fill the slot made vacant by injured Kieron Pollard.
In the recent Twenty20 International series against Ireland and England, Russell was used at the No.6 spot in an attempt to compensate for Pollard's absence. However, he failed to provide the explosive power with scores of just 15, 8, 24 not out, 2 and 0.
But despite the failures, Sammy said Russell had the team's full support and would continue in the position as the West Indies prepare for the defence of their World Twenty20 title in Bangladesh.
“We have to give players that confidence. It's been five games since he's been tried in that role. It's a big gap to fill. Pollard knew his game inside out and was very experienced. If Russell goes and gets the job done then I'm always there at the back end to do it,” Sammy said.
“There may be situations in the last five overs where I will have to go and we'll have to make that decision then but as for now I, the coaching staff are backing him to do the job and we believe he is going to deliver. If he doesn't, then I back myself to come and finish the job.”
Russell has emerged as a powerful hitter in the limited overs format and was key to Jamaica Tallawahs winning the inaugural 2013 Caribbean Premier League.
Gibson said he was confident Russell could rediscover his form but added the player needed time to adjust to the role.
“He had a really good CPL for Jamaica with the bat. He made important runs for them. We're missing Pollard and he's a big loss for us because he's one of our key men in those middle orders. We're trying to give Russell the opportunity to fill that Pollard role and you have to give him time, it's something he has to grow into," Gibson explained.
"He has played three games in the England series and I will sit down with him and assess and let him know how I think he has gone and what else he needs to do and if he's going do it the way Pollard has done it for us in the past. We believe strongly in Russell. We believe he's got the capabilities to do it. He's got the game, the power to do that job so we have to continue to back him up and give him the support he needs.”