Andre Russell came to the Stars with great expectations, and to a certain extent fulfilled them. (Photo: Melbourne Stars)

When it was announced that exciting West Indian all rounder Andre Russell had signed for the Melbourne Stars, expectations were high, but did he truly reach them?

When West Indian star Andre Russell signed for the Melbourne Stars on a five game deal for BBL 11, fans were understandably exceptionally excited.

The all rounder is one of the biggest names in the T20 domestic scene, dominating leagues all around the world.

Australian audiences were immediately drawn back to his breakout BBL|05 campaign, where after 10 games he ended with 16 wickets and 185 runs at a strike rate of 186.

Expectations were understandably high, and with his first game coming just after the Stars’ 152 run loss to the Sixers in the opening game of the tournament, ‘Dre Russ’ was seen as the answer to their problems.

Now that his five-game stint is over, The Inner Sanctum looks back to determine whether Andre Russell lived up to the hype and had the impact that the Stars wanted.

Andre Russell’s bowling

One of the most exciting things about Russell’s game is his bowling. Fast, aggressive and full of wickets, it is the perfect concoction for box office success in the shortest format.

With this style of bowling does however comes certain results. He won’t tie up an end and go for just six runs an over, that’s not a realistic target for him.

Russell is almost guaranteed to go for runs, and a T20 career economy of 8.45 proves just that. On the flip side, he does take wickets, and his average of 25.96 and a wicket every three overs speaks to his ability.

He is the type of player that can be hit-or-miss; sometimes his bowling comes off, and sometimes it certainly doesn’t. With his pace and aggression when it doesn’t, runs flow, and it can turn ugly quick for the West Indian.

Unfortunately in Australia this tournament, his bowling didn’t quite go to plan.

Two wickets over the five games at an average of 57 and a strike rate of 34 was not what the Stars would have desired from their star-man.

Not only were his wickets down and his strike rate exceedingly high, he averaged 10.12 runs off his overs bowled.

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When he takes wickets his economy rate isn’t really looked at, but when he doesn’t it becomes glaringly obvious how expensive the West Indian can be.

There are reasons for these disappointing bowling performances, and it could be attributed to the fact that he hasn’t played in the country for five years.

With the World Cup and IPL played in the United Arab Emirates on slower wickets, the transition process to bouncy Australian pitches does take time. With the 33-year-old only signing to a five game contract, it is understandable that he took some time to adjust.

However, when purely looking at the statistics, Andre Russell did not reach the hype or have the impact that the Stars wanted in terms of his bowling.  

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Andre Russell’s batting

Andre Russell’s style of batting is what draws fans young and old into T20 cricket. He hits sixes and scores runs fast.

As a batter that comes in either fifth or sixth in the order, his main role is to come out with a few overs left and score fast, pushing a total up 20 runs higher than it probably should have been.

His BBL|05 resume where he scored 185 runs at an average of 23 with 15 sixes is exactly the thing that fans around the world have come to expect from him.

In the first three matches he delivered just that, scoring 71 runs at a strike rate of 186 without once getting dismissed.

His 42 off 21 deliveries against his former side the Sydney Thunder completely swung the match in their second fixture, as the Stars strolled to a comfortable win with 17 balls remaining.

Unfortunately for Russell, he couldn’t bring this form to his last two matches, getting dismissed twice at an average of just six with a strike rate under 100.

Whilst his final two performances were not his explosive best, his first three proved why he is one of the most destructive middle order hitters in the game.

It is unrealistic to think that someone with his style will always score big. The nature of the way he plays is that sometimes he will hit the ball all over the park, while other times he will hardly trouble the scorers.

When looking at his season with the bat, it is truly hard to judge both questions in the same way. Did ‘Dre Russ’ live up to the hype with the bat? It depends on what cricket fans around the country expected from him.

He wasn’t at the scintillating best that we saw in BBL|05, however he did for the most part score fast runs at the end of an innings to put Melbourne in a good position to win.

For the Stars he certainly had the impact that they would have wanted. His contributions with the bat were the main reason for two of their wins, which is a return that Melbourne can be truely happy with.

Andre Russell overall

Andre Russell came to the BBL|11 competition with an exuberant amount of hype. The memories of his destructive past coupled with the lack of genuine superstars in the league this year made him the most watchable player in the tournament for the five games he was on Australian shores.

Truthfully, Russell didn’t quite live up to that hype, especially with the ball.

He did however have pivotal moments that stole games away from the opposition, which is exactly what the Stars would have wanted. He played a key role in two of their wins, especially his 42 runs at 200 against the Thunder.

Expectations of the West Indian were too high coming in, as tournaments like Russell’s BBL|05 are exceptionally rare. It would have been nearly impossible to back that up.

Even though he has struggled to find that form on a consistent basis since, he still has the capability to win a match on his own, even if this is now only once every couple of games.

That’s what Australia saw this year, a player whose style doesn’t consistently allow them to perform brilliantly every night, but you know has the capabilities to put on a man of the match performance.

The Stars knew this going in, so whilst we didn’t see BBL|05 Andre Russell, Melbourne would be happy with the impact that he did have over his five games.

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