Russell lays his bogey team

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The Independent Online
Four years ago Jack Russell was dropped after the fourth Test at Edgbaston when it was felt that he would never score another run against the West Indies. Alec Stewart was recalled and England won the fifth Test at The Oval to square the series. True, Russell has since been to the Caribbean and indeed scored runs there, including a fine 62 in Antigua.

But yesterday's offering must have been so satisfying to the Gloucestershire wicketkeeper, who is enjoying one of his most prolific seasons with the bat, averaging 43 before the sixth Test.

England needed a big innings from him and he obliged. Russell has been marked down as a fiddler at the crease and something of an improviser but the sell-out crowd were treated to some glorious shots as Russell passed 50 for the sixth time in his 39-match international career.

One square cut off the admirable Kenny Benjamin stamped itself on the memory, while his wanderings out towards square leg at the non-striker's end, where he performs a series of shuffles and jigs to stay loose and help with his concentration, provided an absorbing sideshow.

In all he hit 15 boundaries, but only four of those came off his Gloucestershire colleague and captain, Courtney Walsh, who reached a landmark himself when he had Mike Watkinson caught behind. It was his 300th Test victim and he became only the third West Indies player to achieve the feat after Malcolm Marshall (376) and Lance Gibbs (309) and the 10th in Test history.

He failed to get Russell, though. That honour went to the estimable Curtly Ambrose - one of his five wickets, his first such haul of the series and the 13th in his career. It was a crying shame that Russell, who was 32 earlier this month, failed to reach what would have been his second Test century by nine runs, but he can draw comfort from the fact that it lifted him into the all-time top 10 of wicketkeepers' scores against West Indies.

He lies eighth equal with Jim Parks, in the company of such illustrious names as Ames, Knott, Murray and Evans, and has firmly laid to rest the notion that he cannot score runs against the West Indies.

County Cricket, page 25