Self-portrait of the artist

Jack Russell, the England wicketkeeper, paints a picture of life and strife during a curtailed World Cup campaign
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The Independent Online
LEFT Heathrow for Lahore at 9.15pm. Party in good spirits. Spent the flight thinking how I would approach the series, my first World Cup, and reflecting on last trip to sub-continent with England in 1987 when I mainly covered for Bruce French. I hope I play more this time. Mind you, it was then that I developed my drawing technique, particularly portraiture. Some of those memories will be useful for the autobiography I'm writing.

SPENT time practising, mainly at Aitcheson College, which was where Imran Khan, among others, went to school. The facilities were excellent and the place reminded me a lot of Cheltenham College, where Gloucestershire play a festival week every season. The masonry is a different colour, though.

TOOK us 20 hours to get to the opening ceremony at Eden Gardens. It was a grand event, although the expensive laser show was spoiled by the wind. The actor Saeed Jaffrey kept getting his lines wrong when introducing the teams. Got Kenya mixed up with South Africa. Hilarious really. Harvey [Neil Fairbrother] cut his head at practice running into a fence. Had a good work-out, though all the police sergeant wanted to know was how long we were likely to be as he wanted his men to have their tiffin.

DISAPPOINTING to lose our opening game to New Zealand. We should have scored the 240 we needed to win. Hicky [Graeme Hick], who needed a runner after tweaking something in his leg, played really well for his 85, when the runner, Athers, was run out. Could have had them 5 for two but for dropped catches - four in the innings. Cloudless skies are not the easiest conditions to judge catches under and none of them was as straightforward as they probably looked on TV.

OVERNIGHT stay before travelling back to Pakistan. Had a small surprise party for Malcolm Ashton, our scorer who had proposed to his girlfriend on St Valentine's Day by fax. She accepted and Wayne Morton, our physio, organised a cake that had "You Soppy Bastard" iced on to it to celebrate. Unfortunately they had put "You Soopy Bastard" instead. Won my fifth game of chess on the trot against Thorpey [Graham Thorpe].

GREAT to be back in Peshawar, one of my favourite places. After practice went off painting at the local bazaar. Mobbed by the locals though security guard prevented it from getting out of hand. What an atmosphere - brilliant. There is something ancient about the people and the place that is really inspiring to paint.

Match against UAE. We seemed less uptight than against New Zealand. The pitch was good but slow and not great to keep wicket on. In fact almost as difficult as pitches in the West Indies. Batted well. Only chasing 136, so didn't expect to be getting my pads on, but we lost a couple of wickets to soft dismissals and Smithy [Neil Smith] had to retire after being sick on the field. Unhappily, Craig White'sintercostal went when bowling. Felt really sorry for him. He's such a great lad and you really couldn't wish to meet a more decent fellow.

Painted my first portrait in public of the musician in the hotel lobby restaurant. Wasn't bad considering it was my second painted portrait ever. I painted my seven-year-old daughter Elizabeth just before coming on tour. Got my best night's sleep on tour. Given the day off. I wanted to go to the Khyber Pass, but apparently it is too dangerous. It's in a non- governmental zone and so is governed by tribal law. Went instead to my security guard's village where his family lived. After meeting them all I got out to paint the landscape. Met some farmers, who let me fire their Kalashnikov semi-automatics in the air. One of them even went off to get me a bed to sit down on. Great fun. Went to British Consulate in the evening, but I sneaked back early to finish off my portrait of the sitar player.

Again tried to get out to the Khyber, this time with Digger [Peter Martin] and a couple of photographers. Got about 20 minutes out of Peshawar when we came across a sign that said: "All foreigners not allowed passed [sic] this point." We could sense we weren't really welcome and that to go beyond here would perhaps put our lives in danger. Our security man told us that the tribesmen in these parts often kidnap people to obtain money now there has been a clampdown on the drugs trade. Even the police are advised not to venture into these areas. Went back to the hotel via the bazaar, where I had my photo taken with the orange seller.

Beat Holland well. Hick century, Thorpey excellent 89. Mind you, we would have liked 300 and the captain said our tardy running between the wickets cost us 20 runs. Probably right. We bowled OK. Holland batted well. At least we're getting there, but with still a bit more to go. After the game, the whole of the Dutch team knocked on my door. I opened it to find one of them jumping around wearing wicket-keeping gloves, sunglasses and a large piece of black carpet stuck to his top lip. It was hilarious and the first time I've been impersonated. Spent the rest of the evening finishing off my portrait of Waqar the carpet-shop owner.

BUS journey here a real experience. Good laugh, though hair-raising at times. Some shops with beautiful furniture. Very tempting, potentially dangerous on the wallet. Couldn't practise properly before South Africa game because of soggy outfield and nets. In the end, John Barclay at least managed to persuade the authorities to let us do some fielding practice. We were definitely up for the fight. Our batting and fielding were much better, though we still managed to drop a catch or two. Harvey again got his head into the thick of things when he headbutted the stumps trying to run someone out. I cried with laughter, unable to focus on the next few balls for the tears in my eyes. Commitment - you can't beat it.

MUCH hotter here than inland. Excellent practice facilities at the Gymkhana club next to the team hotel. Had dinner with Raymond [Illingworth], Zed [Zaheer Abbas], who used to play for Gloucestershire, and his wife Sam. Really enjoyable evening spent reminiscing about Gloucestershire days and listening to the others talk about their time in the game. Went to look at more handmade furniture with amazing hand-carved inlay. Ordered a 12ft dining table and 12 chairs, inlaid with the Russell arms and motto, which translates from the Latin as: "By the grace of God. I am what I am." Which is just as well considering some of my habits. Ended up buying a stack of furniture for the new extension at home. Getting it shipped home.

Practice game against Karachi Cricket Association at Gymkhana club. Me and Thorpey played for Karachi. Batted at No3. Had to wait a long time for a knock. Really good practice though England didn't really make full use of it. Match against Pakistan very, very noisy. These early mornings are still a killer. For once, got off to a great start. When the Judge [Robin Smith] hit Waqar for six, the whole dressing-room lifted. At one stage we looked like getting 290 plus but our middle order didn't help Thorpey enough. Still, 249 was a defendable score.

Unfortunately, their openers, Aamir Sohail and Saeed Anwar, scored quickly on the flat pitch. It's so difficult for the fielding side to take control in those first 15 overs unless you take wickets, and once Pakistan got the momentum going they never lost it, winning comfortably. Javed Miandad's appearance at No5 greeted with a deafening roar.

Constantly ribbed by my room-mate, Neil Smith, about the huge mess my side of the room. Alec Stewart told him to go for the bed nearest the door. At least that way he can get in and out without having to undertake an assault course. Complete chaos though it seems, I know where everything is. At one stage, the room resembled my gallery near Chipping Sodbury, with players and local dignitaries all stopping by to have a look at what I'd done on my trip. The smell of paint and turpentine is a problem for room-mates and it often means a visit to the Doc [Philip Bell] for a couple of aspirins.

At the start of the week, our team manager, John Barclay, announces that he has lost his small black briefcase. Trout, as the manager is mainly known, is not worried about any money that may have been in there, only the chess set he has carried everywhere with him since he was 11. He keeps inquiring all week before eventually cancelling his credit cards and going into mourning over his beloved chess set. To keep him company, I announce the disappearance of my pounds 2.50 blue alarm clock.

Before moving on I decide to have a big clear-out. Lo and behold, under all the mess is Trout's bag. Well I don't know how it got there, but Smithy and I were jubilant and ran to his room with it. He was so staggered that he jumped up and down with joy. I've never seen a man so happy.

STRONG sense of deja vu. Even staying in the same hotel (The Serena) as we did in 1987, when Gatt [Mike Gatting] had that altercation with Shakoor Rana, one of the Pakistani umpires, during the Faisalabad Test. It was my maiden tour and walking back into the hotel brought back all the memories of midnight meetings and strike action. I remember worrying at the time whether my England career would be over before it started.

We were obviously aware of Sri Lanka's blasters at the start and had all the options weighed up. Open with a spinner, the field placings, slower balls etc. But whatever we did, we just could not stop Sanath Jayasuriya. To be fair, our batting let us down again, though it wasn't from lack of trying. Because of their batting strength we set out to get 300. We just did not play well enough on the day. Although Daffy [DeFreitas] did all that was asked of him with 67, and Dermot [Reeve] and Goughie's stand of 52 gave us a glimmer.

As a player, I may never see another World Cup, so being out was not a pleasant feeling. We've not only let ourselves down, but everyone else as well. We simply failed to adapt to this type of one-day cricket and the first 15 overs in particular. We now have to go away and rethink our strategies, because this form of the game is here to stay. We're out, and with our performances as they've been, we deserve to be. It's time to rethink and rebuild, with a lot of sorting out to be done in the English game as a whole. George Burns dies at 100. Had to laugh because he smoked several cigars a day, and apparently when he was asked what his doctor thought of it, his reply was always: "My doctor's dead."

OUR original flight from Delhi with Air India changed because of the strike going on. Now off with PIA to Heathrow via Islamabad. Will finish off some of the sketches on the way back, especially Wayne Morton's eyes. I hope he sits still. Back to see Aileen and children and the beautiful greys and greens of the English landscape at this time of year. Then down to work planning Gloucestershire's season, with a pre-season tour of Zimbabwe in early April. Lots of training as well as commissioned paintings to complete. Life rushes on - not a minute to waste.

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