West Indies all-rounder Andre Russell insists he still has ambitions of playing international cricket while saying recent comments by head coach Phil Simmons questioning some players' commitment are tantamount to throwing him "under the bus".
Russell, in England competing in The Hundred, said he previously had talks with West Indies team management about the terms under which he would balance playing for the regional side and global cricket franchises.
"I'm going to be quiet, because at the end of the day, we had a discussion, and the discussion was very clear," the 34-year-old superstar cricketer said Tuesday on Sky Sports.
"So now, making me look bad, throwing me under the bus… I was expecting it," Russell said.
There is widespread concern around the region about the recent subpar displays from the former two-time global Twenty20 (T20) champions, especially because the next World Cup is set for October to November in Australia.
Without a number of elite players, the world number seven-ranked West Indies beat lower-rated Bangladesh two-nil in a three-match T20 series in July. But that was followed by 1-4 and 1-2 losses to world number one India and current fifth-ranked New Zealand, respectively.
During a August 9 press conference on the eve of the New Zealand series, Simmons and West Indies lead selector Desmond Haynes were asked by the Jamaica Observer about players who were unavailable or not selected, including Russell, swashbuckling left-hand opener Evin Lewis, premier spinner Sunil Narine and livewire all-rounder Fabian Allen.
"I don't think that I should be begging people to play for their countries. I think if you want to represent West Indies you would make yourself available for West Indies cricket," Simmons had said, though not naming players.
Haynes had noted, too, that the lure of the myriad lucrative cricket franchises at times created a dilemma for the region's best players.
"I would really like… [them to] make themselves available and play, but the guys got options now. And if they are choosing franchises in front of West Indies, well, we have to pick from whoever is available to us," he said.
Russell and Lewis, 30, most recently played T20 cricket for West Indies against Australia during the team's dismal World Cup campaign in the Middle East last November.
The 34-year-old Narine last played a T20 International against India in Guyana in August 2019.
Allen, 27, last featured in a T20 match away to India in February of this year.
Russell, meanwhile, said he has much more to give to the regional side, but suggested that he and Cricket West Indies were at loggerheads.
"Of course, of course. The maroon is all over," he said in reference to his commitment to the team.
"I always want to play and give back. But at the end of the day, if we are not agreeing on certain terms… and they have to respect my terms as well. At the end of the day, it is what it is. We have families and we have to make sure that we give our best opportunity while we have one career.
"I'm 34 and I want to win another World Cup — or two more — for West Indies because, at the end of the day, I'm here now, and I'm just taking it day by day," Russell said.
Haynes, the West Indies cricket's lead selector, indicated that the Caribbean Premier League T20 — set to start in two weeks and expected to feature the region's top players — will influence World Cup selection, which some view as an opportunity for those who haven't played for the regional team recently.
"If you've got a competition and somebody is playing well, I think his name should really come up for selection, so I think performance is very important to us," Haynes said.