The ability to hit the ball 360 degrees around the ground is what encapsulates the modern-day limited overs player. Andre Russell is one of a limited breed of T20 batsmen. He does not have the ramps and the scoops. He will not be reverse sweeping the spinner and manipulating the field. He stands and delivers. He hits the ball far and long with very little finesse.
For a long time, the Jamaican has been known as a destructive lower order player. In the history of twenty over cricket only one man has scored at a higher strike rate than Russell’s 169, but this season in the Indian Premier League he has taken that monstrous hitting to a new level. A more consistent level.
In its nature, T20 is inconsistent, especially in terms of personal performances and statistics. This is even more apparent in the lower order six hitting role that Russell fulfills. It is this that makes his IPL so far so remarkable.
IPL 2019 Stats Stand As Its Testimony
The 30-year-old has amassed 312 runs at an average of 78. In the first four matches, he scored at 16.56 runs per over and hit a boundary every 2.26 balls with a strike rate of 268.83. No one else in the competition comes close to this blend of rapid scoring and mass of runs.
His raw stats alone show the formidable hitting power that even Chris Gayle in his prime would be proud of. If you look deeper into the numbers you can see just how vital his performances have been to the success for far for the Kolkata Knight Riders.
In the first 11 years of the IPL, no side had ever chased 53 off the last three overs. This season alone KKR have completed that feat twice in just five games. Russell has been at the forefront of this assault on the bowlers with scores of 49* (19), 48 (17), 62 (28) and 48* (13). Only in their most recent game against Chennai has the West Indian failed with the bat.
Statistical performance analysis has become a much bigger part of the sport and to that end, Cricinfo has created new metrics to try and better value the worth of a player’s innings during a T20 match. They’re currently using a stat called, Smart Runs. It takes into account runs scored, the strike rate compared to other players in that match, the quality of the bowlers and the match situation in which those runs are scored.
Their calculations at the time of writing have Russell with the highest smart runs total, thanks in no small part to the high-pressure situations in which he has performed.
Batting in recent years has resembled a video game with the way players have been hitting sixes at will. In this year’s IPL, no one has been better at that basic part of the game than the Jamaican. A clear and uncomplicated technique may have seen Russell level up.
In a truly inconsistent format, Russell has become a six-hitting metronome. If success really is consistently applying basic fundamentals, then Russell is doing the right thing in bringing batting back to its most simple form. See the ball. Hit the ball for six.