He is being called Superman. The moniker is well earned too, as the things he has been doing are simply not normal.
The Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) were 139/4 off 15.4 overs chasing 205 set by RCB when Russell strode to the middle. That means 66 was required off 26 balls, a state of affairs that was to deteriorate even further. But then Russell went into overdrive, smashing it to all parts. When the game ended he was 48, slammed off just 13 deliveries with one four and seven sixes. The nineteenth over read like this: 1, 6, 6, 6, 4, 6 and KKR won with five deliveries to spare.
Against Delhi Capitals (DC) he batted at seven, for some reason, and KKR were 61/5 when he came in during the 10th over. He then went on to smash 62 off 28 balls with four fours and six sixes before falling in the 18th over. KKR eventually made 185/7 off their 20 overs, a total they never looked like getting close to. And though the game was tied and DC won the game in the one-over eliminator, it was Russell who made such a thrilling outcome possible.
No chase is ever out of reach with Russell still at the crease. He specializes in lost causes, and opponents dare not feel assured of victory until he has been safely returned to the pavilion.
Injuries have often prevented him from bowling at his best, but he is capable of disturbing pace when operating at full tilt and has often been chosen to bowl at the death. He is also excellent in the field, capable of pulling off the unlikely stop or the miraculous catch.
His career has not been all plain sailing. His injuries have limited his appearances for the West Indies. The legendary Clive Lloyd, while chairman of selectors, was adamant that Russell could star for the West Indies in all three formats. The Jamaican all-rounder demurred, however, citing his bad knee as preventing him from lasting through an entire five-day Test.
That knee injury will likely force Russell to play mostly as a batsman during the World Cup. But when you look at what he’s doing with the bat, as pointed out by a Cricket West Indies (CWI) official during the announcement of the squad, he is still worth his place.
A whereabouts-clause violation saw him serving a one-year anti-doping ban which ended in January 2018. He returned probably even stronger than before and there appears to be no lingering problems from what must have been a challenging experience.
This will be Russell’s third World Cup. Seeing that he did little in the previous two he will want to leave his mark on this one. That should be straightforward enough given his current form. Unless, of course, Superman puts on his glasses and becomes Clark Kent again.