Andre Russell in World Cup fitness race

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Jamaican superstar cricketer Andre Russell is optimistic he will be fit in time for the 2019 ICC 50-over World Cup, despite the latest knee injury setback delaying his West Indies return.

“I couldn’t get to take part in the series for West Indies, so I’m just trying to put everything together [recover],” he said during an interview on Tuesday after only returning to the island late on Monday.

“I’m looking forward to that [the Cricket World Cup] and that’s why I want to make sure I’m back to fitness as soon as possible,” the 30-year-old all-rounder told the Jamaica Observer.

“The way the guys are playing and how they are actually gelling together as a unit — it’s been a while I’ve been in a West Indies team and got that feeling. Win or lose the guys [rally] around each other and enjoy each other’s success. I just think that’s how we are going to compete and do well in the World Cup,” he continued.

The 50-over cricket showpiece is set for May to July in England and Wales.

Russell, who had been engaged in the Pakistan Super League (PSL), was named in the West Indies squad for the latter part of the One-Day International (ODI) series against touring England.

To the bewilderment of fans around the world, Russell sat on the sidelines as resurgent West Indies ended 2-2 against the Englishmen.

Thereafter, Cricket West Indies (CWI) said the big-hitting batsman did not feature “due to an adverse reaction he had to a medical procedure done in Dubai before he flew to the Caribbean”.

Russell, who has a history of knee problems, has played one Test, 52 ODIs and 47 Twenty20 (T20) Internationals.

His most recent outing for the Caribbean team was in a T20 game against visiting Bangladesh in Florida last August. His last ODI was against the same opposition in Guyana a month earlier.

He provided no detail of the current injury, but did confirm feeling discomfort in both knees.

“I just got back and I went to see the physiotherapist as soon as I could. I got some treatment based on the stiffness [and] they tried to target that area and surrounding areas. I believe that in another week or so I’ll be good, but how I’m feeling now it’s very awkward to walk around,” he told the Observer.

“I’ve had knee problems before — my knees weren’t in the best shape and stuff, but they were getting stronger, they were getting there,” he wistfully added.

Russell, a key member of the West Indies team that won the T20 World Cup in India in 2016, is a prized asset thanks to his batting power, searing pace bowling and electric fielding.

He said it was tough on the outside looking in, especially with the West Indies beating higher-ranked England 2-1 in the Test series before drawing the ODIs.

“It was very frustrating knowing I was with the PSL playing cricket before, running in and bowling with pace. Everything was coming back together and I was excited to be back in the maroon [West Indies uniform] representing the region.

“I could see from the television what was happening from the Test series right into the first two ODIs [and] that gave me confidence and good vibes coming in. The team is definitely playing some good cricket, and I was eager to be back. But these things [injuries] happen and I started to get the uncomfortable feeling in my knee again. It makes sense I just get some treatment and try to recover in a comfortable space,” he explained.

Russell is contracted to Kolkata Knight Riders in the Indian Premier League, slated to start later this month. (Jamaica Observer)

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