SYDNEY, Australia (CMC):Sydney Thunder are desperate to tie West Indies all-rounder Andre Russell to a new contract before the Big Bash season ends, after the player’s massive impact with the franchise during the current campaign.The 27-year-old, a lively seamer and a devastating lower order batsman, has been one of Thunder’s best players and has also found himself immensely popular with franchise fans. Such has been Russell’s impact that the Thunder’s general manager, Nick Cummins, said they planned to make his contract renewal “priority” as they begin to plan for next season.”Of the guys that are off contract he’s “our priority. We’re already in discussions and we’re hoping to have something done before the season ends,” Cummins said. “He’s definitely a priority, we couldn’t have asked anything more from him.”Russell has delivered for Sydney in style this season. He has a league-leading 13 wickets and had produced a couple of cameos at a strike rate of 181. The Jamaican is also a brilliant fielder, taking three catches.His interaction with Sydney fans has been fantastic and Cummins said the franchise wanted to move quickly to ward off any other attempts by rivals to secure Russell’s services next season.”I’d imagine there’s other teams wanting to recruit Andre. He can do everything with bat, ball and in the field,” Cummins noted.”At the same time he was available to be signed last year and Thunder was the team that saw that and hopefully he sees we were the ones who backed him . . . who stood behind him.”He is one of those players who plays the way we’d all love to and I think the way he goes about his cricket is why he’s so popular. He’s explosive, dynamic and spectacular.”Russell has morphed into a T20 specialist in recent years, campaigning in all the major leagues across the globe.Last year, he played in the Indian Premier League, the Caribbean Premier League, the South African Ram Slam and the Bangladesh Premier League.He is set to play in the inaugural Pakistan Super League next month.
1 Theo Walcott training ahead of the Champions League Group D game against Anderlecht 1 As a result of Arsenal’s growing list of casualities, third choice goalkeeper Emiliano Martinez will start for the Gunners in the first of their Champions League double header against Anderlecht.Wojciech Szczesny is suspended and David Ospina is injured, but there is good news.Aaron Ramsey played against Hull, while Gooners may see Theo Walcott don club colours for the first time since January after recovering from a knee injury.Possible Arsenal starting line-up v Anderlecht: Arsenal are currently second in Group D, three points behind leaders Dortmund and know that to have any chance of finishing top, they need six points from the next two games.What would your starting XI look like?