Refusing to revel in the early spotlight after his blitzkrieg in the Champions League Twenty20 opener, Kolkata Knight Riders allrounder Andre Russell has credited the team's support staff and said that having the great Wasim Akram in the dugout is a big plus. (How Kolkata Knight Riders defeated Chennai Super Kings)
"The support staff of KKR is excellent. I ask a lot of questions from Wasim Akram. He teaches me simple things in practice that I may not notice. I do what he tells me to do," Russell told PTI in an interview.
"How the ball come off the hand differently from different seam positions and things happen. So its good when you guys like Wasim around. He can keep reminding you about your action, your follow through, hitting your wicket and bowl in the right areas," he said.
The West Indian allrounder, who smashed a 25-ball 58 against Chennai Super Kings, took the reigning IPL champions out of a slump to ease to their 158-run target with an over to spare. Russell though cautioned the team against complacency.
"I think in T20 cricket, there is always room for improvement and we can't take any team lightly. Every team is good on its day. So you can't really pick favourites and predict that this or that team will pose a challenge or will be easy meat," said Russell.
"When I say that this team is a weak team or this team is a strong team, I am probably creating trouble for myself by taking my opposition lightly. A strong team can be all out for a paltry score while a so-called weak team can go on to post a huge total. So you can never take anybody lightly. We just have to keep fighting and keep playing good cricket all through," he added.
Russell, who is part of two champion sides with Jamaica Tallawahs winning the Caribbean Premier League in 2013 and KKR triumphing in IPL this year, said that captains Chris Gayle and Gautam Gambhir have led their respective teams with great focus.
"It's two good leaders. They are very serious when it comes to the game. They are very passionate about it and I would give them a 100 per cent any day," said Russell.
Russell, 26, who had a few good CPL games this season before coming into the CLT20, said momentum has helped him a lot.
"The competition in CPL was different. But I have been doing well for Jamaica Tallawahs and that has really helped me here as well. It helps when you carry a bit of momentum. I have been getting a role to play and I have been playing that role very well. I did very well in a few games and that gave me confidence coming into the Champions League.
"And you saw that night against Chennai Super Kings that things happened in my favour," said a confident-sounding Russell.
The big-hitter was more than happy to compare the dressing rooms of Jamaica and KKR, saying that the fun element keeps him going in both the camps.
"If I have to compare the two dressing rooms then I would choose to talk about the similarities and the thing that tops is fun. it's good fun to be with both the outfits. Ofcourse there may be players who are culturally different and speak a different language in KKR but we gel well together and enjoy ourselves.
"The jokes and the banter keeps the dressing room alive and that element translates into our performances as well. I can I say that for both teams," said Russell.
After playing his first and only Test in 2010 against Sri Lanka, Russell has had a stop-start career, with 35 ODIs and 30 T20 Internationals so far but the allrounder opines that luck has now started to smile on him.
"I just think it has been up and down but right now my cricket has improved. My bowling and batting have improved and my body is stronger. Playing cricket all around the world has matured me as a cricketer. You play with different people and players who are good leaders and their experience brushes off on you.
"So it's always a learning process and I am trying to absorb every bit of it. Playing for West Indies now will be a lot easier after playing international cricket all around," he said.