New Fea­ture...

The Cricket Paper - - FEATURE -

(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,

Jack Rus­sell

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.

Alec Ste­wart

(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

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