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“We cannot continue with the foolishness with these guys,” says Andrew Mason on Russell only choosing West Indies when convenient

SPORTSMAX – The issue of Andre Russell’s loyalty to West Indies cricket was up for discussion on the Mason & Guest talk show in Barbados on Tuesday night and it sparked a contentious conversation between the show’s host, Andrew Mason, and Cricket West Indies (CWI) vice-president Dr. Kishore Shallow.

Mason believes the CWI is seemingly willing to bend over backwards to accommodate players’ fancies.

Russell had declared himself unavailable for the West Indies tour of Pakistan for three T20 Internationals, citing personal reasons. A relatively inexperienced West Indies team has so far lost [all] of the three matches, [the last of which was played] on Thursday.

Meanwhile, Russell signed on to represent the Melbourne Stars in Australia’s Big Bash League. On the weekend, he scored an unbeaten 42 from 21 balls and was named Man-of-the-Match in the Stars’ six-wicket win over the Sydney Thunder.

On Tuesday, Dr. Shallow sought to explain why Russell was in Australia and not in Pakistan helping the West Indies.

“Russell indicated to the lead selector that he was mentally fatigued in the bubble, and in the Big Bash League – where he is now – he would be required to be in a bubble,” Dr. Shallow said. “That was the rationale provided to the lead selector.”

An obviously exasperated Mason was unable to contain his displeasure at the situation where certain players only choose to represent the West Indies when it suits them.

“Yes, Dr. Shallow, they have got to get the opportunity to make money, but there is a word called ‘sacrifice’,” Mason declared, adding that such situations are almost unique to the West Indies.

“The other players don’t do it to their countries, and I am sure Russell is going to be ready to play for us in the World Cup and we are going to pick him.

“We cannot continue with the foolishness with these guys.”

Sir Andy Roberts also weighed in on Dr. Shallow’s explanation, suggesting that the players seem to make their decisions based on money only.

“These guys just don’t want to play for the West Indies because the fees ain’t that high,” said the long-retired fast bowler. “I am not saying that they should not be allowed to go, but they should only go if the West Indies do not require their services.”

This is not the first time Russell has faced criticism over his decisions on when to represent the West Indies.

In December 2020, the iconic Antiguan fast bowler Sir Curtly Ambrose publicly criticized Andre Russell, who declined an invitation to play for the West Indies against New Zealand but later went to play in the Sri Lanka Premier League T20.

Chief selector Roger Harper told media that Russell declined the West Indies invitation, citing the need to clear his mind after being in quarantine lockdown for both the Caribbean Premier League (CPL) in Trinidad and Tobago where he played for the Jamaica Tallawahs franchise, and then the Indian Premier League (IPL) in Abu Dhabi where he played for the Kolkata Knight Riders.

“Because he wants to clear his head for a while to get his mind together, I have no problem with that because cricket is a high-pressure game,” Ambrose said then.

“So if you want to clear your head for a while, take your mind off cricket, I have no issues with that; but if you are going to reject playing for your nation, your country, and then two weeks later you’re playing for somebody else, that to me is a no-no.”

In a later interview, Ambrose provided further clarity.

“The game has evolved. There is a lot more cricket being played now and many different T20 tournaments around the globe and there’s lots more money as well; so guys are going to go where the money is and I have no issues with that,” Ambrose said.

“A cricket career can be a very short one. Once you have an injury it could be all over for you; so with guys going around plying their trade with different franchises making money to set themselves up financially, I have no issues with it.

“However, I think it needs to strike a balance somewhere; because most of these guys who are playing their trade around the world, it’s because they played for the West Indies team why people saw them and gave them contracts.

“So, for me, you need to find a balance somewhere where you can give back to West Indies cricket. You need to give back to West Indies cricket at some point as opposed to abandoning West Indies.”

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