Having rescued the Knight Riders in chasing down 50-plus runs in under three overs on multiple occasions last season, while also failing to take the team across the line on occasions where he was padded up – and in the dug-out – for far too longer than he would’ve liked, Russell had expressed his disappointment at getting to face too few balls. But now with Eoin Morgan in the squad for the 2020 season, the responsibility of being the Knight Riders’ designated finisher does not lie solely on Russell.
“Why not?” Hussey said, when asked at a press conference if Russell would bat up the order in IPL 2020. “If it benefits the team and helps us win games of cricket, why not. If he comes in at No. 3 and bats 60 balls, he might even score a double-hundred. Anything can happen with Dre Russ. He is almost the heartbeat of the team.”
Hussey also said Morgan’s experience as England’s long-term white-ball – and ODI World Cup-winning – captain would be irreplaceable and expected him to be the deputy that the Knight Riders captain Dinesh Karthik can rely on. Along with Russell and Karthik, he outlined Morgan as one of the Knight Riders’ three anchors with the bat.
“He’s huge, isn’t he?” Hussey said of Morgan. “Classy player, classy performer, Morgan’s going to be a great ally for Karthik.
“He may be fielding in the ring talking to the bowlers while the captain is behind the stumps keeping wickets. He’s a cool, calm and collected person and will also be a handy batman controlling the middle overs with Karthik. I expect a really good relationship between them, and his calm head can win us many games through the tournament.”
One decision that the Knight Riders haven’t taken yet, according to Hussey, is who the openers will be this season, especially after Chris Lynn was not retained at December’s auction. The obvious contenders are Shubman Gill, Sunil Narine and Tom Banton, but he was certain of one thing that the Knight Riders will not move away from the “aggressive” opening template that has been their blueprint for the past three seasons under the previous coach Jacques Kallis, who was replaced by Brendon McCullum in August 2019.
“It’s up for discussion at the moment, and the head coach, Abhishek Nayar and Karthik are yet to decide that,” Hussey said. “If anyone knows McCullum, he plays the game at 100 miles an hour and encourages his players to take the game on.
“With regards to Shubman Gill, he’s just one hell of a talent. Leave him alone, let him play, and you can see him score hundred after hundred in the IPL.”