Obituary

Jack Russell

RUSSELL, ALBERT CHARLES, who died in Whipps Cross Hospital on March 23, aged 73, was the first English batsman to hit a century in each innings of a Test match. This he did against South Africa at Durban in 1923 when he scored 140 and 111 and played a leading part in England's rubber-winning victory by 109 runs. The performance was the more remarkable because "Jack" Russell, as he was generally known, "had", Wisden recorded at the time, "to battle against illness; when he started his second innings he ought to have been in bed rather than on the cricket field."

Son of Tom Russell, for many years Essex wicket-keeper, "Jack" was born near the county ground at Leyton. He assisted Essex from 1908 to 1930 and in all matches during that time he scored 27,546 runs, including 71 centuries, average 41.73, obtained 285 wickets with slow bowling for 27.17 runs each and brought off 292 catches, principally in the slips, where he excelled. A master of on-side strokes, he occasionally drove well to the off and, though not specially attractive to watch, he became, once he established himself in the Essex eleven in 1913, one of the most dependable batsmen in the game. Thirteen times he exceeded 1,000 runs in a season and five times, in 1920, 1921, 1922, 1925 and 1928, passed 2,000. His best year was 1922, when he put together an aggregate of 2,575 -- the highest of all batsmen -- including nine centuries, for an average of 54.78.

His highest innings was 273 against Northamptonshire at Leyton in 1921, but that which he considered his best was in the previous summer at Lord's against Middlesex, that season's Champions, when he hit 197 and he and L. C. Eastman added 175 for the ninth wicket after eight men had been dismissed for 184. Besides his Test match feat, he twice scored two separate hundreds in a match for Essex -- 115 and 118 v. Surrey at The Oval in 1922 and 131 and 104 v. Lancashire at Liverpool in 1928 -- and he enjoyed the distinction of hitting centuries against every first-class county, Australia, South Africa and the West Indies.

Twice for his county he shared in a three-figure opening partnership in each innings of a game, 191 and 104 with F. Loveday v. Lancashire at Leyton in 1921 and 122 and 140 with the Rev. F. H. Gillingham v. Surrey at The Oval in 1927. Russell took part in sixteen stands of 200 or more for Essex, the biggest being 263 with D. F. Pope against Sussex at Hove in 1930.

Russell played ten times for England, scoring 135 not out in his first against Australia at Adelaide in 1920; 101 at Manchester and 102 not out at The Oval during the disastrous Test series of 1921. In five appearances for Players against Gentlemen, his largest and best innings was 162 at Lord's in 1922. First a coach and then a groundsman following his retirement from first-class cricket, he was among those professional players granted honorary membership of the M.C.C.

© John Wisden & Co