SYDNEY, Australia, (CMC) – Sydney Thunder have been left sweating on the availability of Andre Russell for this season’s Big Bash campaign, as the explosive West Indies all-rounder awaits his fate from Jamaica’s Anti-Doping Disciplinary Panel.
The Thunder training camp bowls off on Saturday but there is no indication yet whether Russell will be able to suit up or if he will be slapped with a two-year ban for committing an anti-doping whereabouts violation.
He missed three drugs tests in a 12-month period after failing to inform authorities about his whereabouts.
The hearing to determine Russell’s fate concluded recently and Thunder chief executive, Nick Cummins, said they were hopeful of a positive outcome.
Two of the alleged filing failures were while he was playing for West Indies at the World Cup so he was hardly hiding in a cupboard,” Cummins contended.
“He was on international television representing his country. But they’re the rules.
“Certainly from what we’ve followed we think there’s enough evidence to exonerate him but it’s not my decision obviously and we’ll just have to see how it goes.”
Russell has emerged as one of the most sought-after players in the T20 format, and is one of a plethora of West Indies players who ply their trade in multiple foreign leagues.
A big-hitting lower order batsman and a lively seamer who is also brilliant in the field, the 28-year-old has already played 225 T20s and made over 3400 runs and taken 202 wickets.
Cummins said the fact Russell appeared in person before the Anti-Doping had been a good sign.
“I’ve spoken to him a couple of times over the journey. He feels like he’s done everything he can,” said Cummins noted.
“He attended the hearing in person. So he’s taking it very seriously and wanted to make sure that was noted.”
A huge fan favourite, Russell was excellent for Thunder last season, grabbing a high 16 wickets and gathering nearly 200 runs, as they franchise won their maiden Big Bash title.
Cummins said while they preferred to have Russell again this season, they had been understandably forced into contingency planning.
“While he’s an important player we believe that our contingency plan is enough to give us a good run to defend our title. We don’t think it will be jeopardised,” the official said.
“We know what Andre can deliver, and he’s a well-loved member of the team, so we would much prefer he keeps playing with us.”
The Big Bash League bowls off December 20.