Andre Russell, man of the tournament in IPL 2019, had criticised the “decision making” of his franchise Kolkata Knight Riders midway through the tournament, when losses for the team were piling up. That criticism had come on the back of Russell having suggested a week earlier that he wouldn’t mind moving up the order given his devastating form, saying: “To go out there and chasing 14-15 per over, it’s not the best way you want to start as a batsman.”
KKR captain Dinesh Karthik had copped the blame for Russell batting lower down, but he said on Sunday that Russell was a “heart on sleeve” kind of player, and that they both shared an excellent equation which prevented a sour situation from turning ugly.
“I think he’s one of those guys who wears his heart on his sleeve. It’s up to you how you take it,” Karthik said on the RK Show. “If you want to take it offensively, the mistake is on your part. If you want to take it constructively, which is how I looked at it… we had a conversation over it. Man to man, we discussed it. He wasn’t unhappy with me, he wasn’t happy that the team wasn’t winning. That is the bottom line.”
Karthik said that there was a gulf between the meaning Russell had intended to convey with his words and how they were perceived.
“Whatever he said, I completely respected it. I think he got a taste of the Indian media then as well,” Karthik said. “Because what can be said and what comes out can be two different things. The tone of what you say to what comes out can be very different when it comes in print. He realised (that) and was a little apologetic as well. But at the end of the day, I have a great relationship with him. That makes the difference. If I didn’t have a great relationship with him, I think it could have spiralled into something nasty. Because I have an honest relationship, I can go straight up to him and say, ‘Russ, I don’t think what you said is right, because the way it has come out is not great, so what are we going do?’ And he said, ‘No, skip. This is how I felt about it, not how it’s come out.’ So there itself half the battle is over because what he said to what people are reading are two different things.”
Karthik said that the duo had worked out the issues Russell had while explaining his own rationale, and had met his star allrounder “halfway”.
“As a leader, I think having different opinions and dealing with it is one of the most important things,” Karthik said. “You need to be able to stand up and have a conversation, sometimes a hard conversation.”