(Tests - 54, Runs - 1897, 100s - 2, Highest Score - 128*, Average - 27.10, Catches - 153, Stumpings - 12, Most dismissals (innings) - 6. Most dismissals (match) 11.)
Jack Russell called his autobiography Unleashed. Others suggested it should have been Barking, for there was no more glorious eccentric in world cricket than the Gloucestershire stumper.
Copying his hero, Alan Knott, he tried to emulate his brilliant predecessor on and off the field, even strapping a block of wood to the top of his accelerator pedal, as the Kent man did, to protect his calves and hamstrings.
Why, for instance, waste a new tea bag when the same one could be used countless times, once, apparently, for all five days of an Oval Test? Why not offer your hands to the British museum once you are gone? And why try any other cuisine on tour when skinless chicken, boiled potatoes and baked beans – tins of which he often brought with him from home in his ‘coffin’ – always hit the spot.
Singularly singular, Russell’s tendency to steer clear of beer, at a time when most of the team considered such abstemiousness faintly bizarre, encouraged him to find other ways to unwind, chiefly taking off, brushes and pencils in hand to train himself for his second career as a professional painter, often to the poorer parts of the Sub-continent to do so.
While some wondered about the whereabouts of his marbles, no one doubted his dedication to the arts, crafts and sciences of keeping wicket and, with the increasing demand for glovemen to be worth their place in the side as much for their run-scoring, he may well turn out to have been the last of the specialist ’keepers.
No mug with the bat, in his first Ashes series in 1989, he scored 314 runs at 39.25 including his highest Test score of 128 not out at Old Trafford, and his support for Mike Atherton during his blockathon in the second Test against South Africa at the Wanderers in 1995, when he scored 29 not out in 235 balls,
was critical in securing a famous draw. But the selectors, whose decision to leave him out of the 1993 tour to India led to a vote of no confidence among the MCC membership, always seemed to want more and, after his technique had morphed into an obsession to leave the ball at the last moment, his ten-year Test career ended at Antigua’s Recreation Ground in March 1998 in a defeat by an innings and 52 runs in which West Indies’ mastery of a tired England attack made sure he was untroubled behind the stumps.
(Tests - 133, Runs - 8463, 100s - 15, HS - 190, Ave - 39.55, Catches - 227, Stumpings - 14, Most dismissals (innings) - 6, Most dismissals (match) 8).
Eccentric: Jack Russell