Florida, August 3: Carlos Brathwaite has come to Andre Russell's defence after the West Indies all-rounder appeared in the Global T20 (GT20) in Canada hours after pulling out of an international match injured.
Russell saw his Cricket World Cup cut short with a left knee injury and then aggravated the issue in the GT20.
The 31-year-old had been named in the Windies' squad for their first two Twenty20 internationals against India pending a fitness test, yet he informed selectors of his inability to feature.
However, hours after Jason Mohammed was called up in his place, Russell turned out again for Vancouver Knights in the GT20.
Brathwaite believes Russell receives too much criticism for his patchy fitness record, however, suggesting he instead deserves credit for trying to play when possible.
The Windies skipper suggested Russell was playing for Vancouver without being "100 per cent" but did not wish to risk producing below-par performances for his country.
"I think he's been knocked in the press a bit because of his injury woes," Brathwaite told a news conference. "And I think it's easy for us to see him hobbling around the field and just take for granted that he's injured.
"But we can also look at it on the other side and say he could be home, he could be elsewhere and not trying to play for the West Indies.
BREAKING: SQUAD UPDATE!
Jason Mohammed replaces Andre Russell in West Indies v India T20I Squad
Details below!— Windies Cricket (@windiescricket) August 2, 2019
"Speaking for myself as captain of the T20 team, and speaking for myself as Andre's friend, whenever we speak about playing for West Indies, that's always his main goal.
"And we've seen in the World Cup, whether he was 100 per cent or not – it's debatable – the fact that he wanted to be at the World Cup, wanted to pull on the shirt and wanted to perform for the people in the West Indies and his mates in the dressing room, I think, is testament to the person he is.
"I think we need to start commending the fact that he actually tries to get on the park and stop lambasting the fact that he probably doesn't stay on it till the end of the 50 overs or the 20 overs.
"Even against my better judgment, I told him to sit out this series. But he really wanted to play, he really wanted to come and show off his skills and show off what he does in franchise cricket for the West Indies.
"Unfortunately, he took another knock and he doesn't think that, if he comes here, he'd be doing justice to other people who could be here and are 100 per cent.
"Obviously, he's a big loss, not only on the field but off the field. In the dressing room, in and around the team, he's a big character, very jovial and, in my eyes, a leader in the dressing room as well.
"But obviously, if we need to get him ready for the Twenty20 World Cup, we have to do without him for a couple of series.
"I prefer that than pushing him in this series and making a long-term injury."