Andre Russell’s career was never short of injuries, it’s the reality nobody wants to face. This was supposed to be the tournament in which he finally showed the talent he possesses on the biggest stage, a defining moment in the career of this gifted – but terribly unlucky – cricketer. He was looking to be strong of body and mind, but once again, it is his body that has let him down. Russell’s World Cup dream has turned into a nightmare.

It all started so well just over two weeks ago. Against Pakistan at Trent Bridge, he bowled 3 overs with some good pace clicking above 140 consistently, took 2 wickets and started the collapse for Pakistan and ensured that West Indies register an opening-game victory. It was quite a statement. After the match, the signs were there though, signs that suggested all was not well. Russell all over his cricketing life has faced a lot of knee injuries and even during this game it was quite visible that he required some serious treatment after the game. The team management thought he would manage it and be fine for the next game.

That next match in Southampton, Jason Holder desperately bowled Russell for a 5 over spell against Australia. Steven Smith sticky innings was helping Australia a hell good.  West Indies desperately needed another wicket between overs 30 and 40. He was the most likely one to grab them a breakthrough. But Russell ended up on hurting his knees and walked off at the end of the final over of that spell – his eighth in all – in a certain discomfort. Holder admitted afterward that maybe it was a mistake to keep him on so long.

Against England, Russell made it onto the field but was in much pain just after his 4th ball. After the break of 2 overs he returned and hit Jonny Bairstow with a nasty bouncer, but such was the exertion involved, he had to leave the field straight after and didn’t bowl again. Two overs in all then. At Taunton against Bangladesh, he bowled just 6 overs.

The Pakistan game promised so much, but since then it has been a disappointment. He has 5 wickets in the tournament, but having had bowled a complete quota of 10 overs each game, he would have ended up with a lot more. The most important aspect of Russel that the West Indies is missing in this World Cup is his fielding. With not being fit to stand the complete 50 overs for his side in the center has hampered West Indies a lot. The form that he displayed in IPL, some brutal and consistent hitting, is missing in this World Cup. He has scored just 36 runs in his 3 innings. At this point, Russel is fading away as an impact player of this World Cup.

At the start of the tournament, by the glimpse of their line-up on paper, they were considered as one of the contenders for the title. They were also termed as “Black Horses” of the tournament. But as now half the tournament is done and dusted, it has become clear that maybe not this time. They have 4 games to go and 2 of them with India and New Zealand, even with some permutations and combinations it looks as if they have some chance, even they know it has slipped out of their hands.

Up until now, Holder has understandably picked his man for all 4 games even though Russell’s fitness has looked to be getting worse. He is such a dangerous player with gifts not possessed by many other players in world cricket, adding an aggressive dimension to West Indies with both bat and ball, so it is easy to see why. But it just hasn’t worked out. His body has failed him and a half-fit Russell is increasingly becoming a liability. Seeing him at Taunton was so miserable and shame for all the fans as they were deprived of some serious entertainment courtesy to Russel’s poor fitness.

For West Indies and especially Russel, the road ahead seems quite tough. The magnitude of expectations from cricket fans was too high. But the poor run of Gayle, lack of intent and team co-ordination, not so efficient leadership from Holder and the miseries of Russel have counted collectively to the disappointment of the fans. Maybe, the Cricket Board of West Indies can help the team out of this mess. But from here World Cup seems to be out of reach from West Indies.