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Andre Russell: Bubble life 'definitely taken a toll on me mentally'

"But at the end of the day, I'm not being ungrateful, I'm grateful that we're still playing, we're still doing our job"

Andre Russell sports a new hairdo for IPL 2021, Sunrisers Hyderabad vs Kolkata Knight Riders, IPL 2021, Chennai, April 11, 2021

Andre Russell is set to play non-stop T20 cricket June onwards  •  BCCI/IPL

Bubble life has "definitely taken a toll" on West Indies allrounder Andre Russell because of the restrictions, quarantine rules imposed on players as more and more international series and T20 tournaments are being played around the world during the pandemic. Russell last represented the Kolkata Knight Riders in the truncated IPL and will now show up for the Quetta Gladiators in the 2021 PSL, which is likely to resume on June 9.
"I think it's taking a toll on myself," Russell told Geo News from Abu Dhabi, where the rest of the PSL is scheduled to be played. "I can't talk for any other player, or coaches or anyone that goes through this whole quarantine stuff. But it's definitely taken a toll on me mentally because from bubble to bubble, in a room locked in, you can't go out for a walk, you can't go certain places, you can't socialise, it's different.
"But at the end of the day, I'm not being ungrateful, I'm grateful that we're still playing, we're still doing our job. So it's tough for us. But even though we prepared for it, it still takes a toll."
Russell said he tries to utilise the time and space in hotel rooms during quarantine by doing a variety of exercises.
"So for me, I like to have a bike or something in my room so that I can get my heart rate up," he said. "I would utilise the space that I have, go on the floor, do some of some push-ups. For some exercise, I use stuff in the room to just get something done."
The PSL is currently slated to go on from June 7 to 24 for the remaining 20 games in Abu Dhabi where players and personnel are undergoing varying days of quarantine. Players, especially, will be bracing themselves for the UAE heat which is expected to shoot temperatures above 40 degrees Celsius during the day. Russell has the experience of playing in hot conditions before, but he said this time it's going to be "a bit different" because players will have to acclimatise quickly as soon as they come out of quarantine.
"I have played in hot conditions before. But I was in competition, playing games, having proper net sessions and back and forth, getting used to the condition and fully acclimatised," Russell said. "However, in this case, it's going to be a bit different where we are in quarantine and then we just gonna get out and have a few practice sessions and then go straight into the games.
"The night won't be as bad as the day games but if it's a day game, we just have to be up for the challenge. We are professionals, so we have to condition our minds to deal with the heat and the weather."
Known for his brutal power-hitting, Russell also said a batter with a proper technique can also provide great value in T20s with a different set of skills.
"The more power you have as a batter, the more fear you bring into the bowler," he said. "But for a guy with a proper batting technique, he can pick the gaps, he can score boundaries whenever he wants, then it still adds up."
Russell also spoke about the one-year ban he was handed in early 2017 for a doping code violation and said the incident had opened his eyes.
"It was tough for me. It was definitely an era that I wish I could just be careful and just get it done at that time. But, the past is the past, it's already happened, it definitely opened my eyes to reality and life," he said.
Soon after the PSL, Russell will play in the T20I series against South Africa, Australia and Pakistan at home in June and July before representing the Jamaica Tallawahs in the CPL which starts on August 28 and then head to the UAE again for the remainder of IPL 2021.