Simmons Believes Russell Will Be Back Stronger From ‘Harsh’ Ban

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West Indies batsman Andre Russell celebrates after victory in the World T20 cricket semi-final match against hosts India at The Wankhede Stadium in Mumbai, India, yesterday. West Indies won by seven wickets.

KINGSTON, Jamaica (CMC) — Batsman Lendl Simmons has backed his West Indies teammate Andre Russell to bounce back strongly following his one-year anti-doping whereabouts ban.

Jamaican Russell, one of the world’s most sought-after Twenty20 players, was slapped with the suspension last month after being found guilty by a local disciplinary panel of failing to disclose his whereabouts and therefore missing three drugs tests.

Simmons called the suspension “harsh” but said he believed the all-rounder would recover from the setback.

“Not having Russell is a very big blow. I think it’s a big loss for us and to the cricketing world in general, specifically in the Twenty20 arena,” the Trinidadian told the Gleaner newspaper here.

“I personally think it [the ban] is very harsh, but it is done already, and I hope he is dealing with it well.

“To miss a whole year of cricket is very hard, especially when you know you are making your living off cricket and you have a family to feed and whatever.”

The in-demand Russell is set to miss several key tournaments including the Indian Premier League starting next month and Australia’s Big Bash. However, his absence will be most felt in the Caribbean Premier League where he turns out for his native Jamaica Tallawahs.

Simmons, who was picked up by the Kingston-based franchise in last week’s draft, said Russell was fully committed to picking up where he left off before the ban.

“I know he will come back strong and he has been training hard,” Simmons noted.

“I spoke to him earlier, so I know he is training and doing what he has to do to keep fit and come back and represent Tallawahs, West Indies and whoever he plays for in franchise cricket.”

Both Simmons and Russell were members of the West Indies wide, which captured an unprecedented second Twenty20 World Cup in India last April.

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