Obituary

John Russel

ESPNcricinfo staff

MR. JOHN SOMERVILLE RUSSEL, who died suddenly at Aberdeen on the 12th September, was born at Edinburgh, on March 19th, 1849, and was therefore in his fifty-fourth year at the time of his death. His boyhood was spent in his native city, his early education being received at the Royal High School. In July, 1870, he made his first appearance at Lord's, assisting The North of Ireland against M.C.C., though what qualification he possessed to figure on the side of the former is hard to understand.

He was an excellent batsman when at his best. His style was not attractive, but his on-drives were hard and all along the ground, and his late cuts sharp and well-timed. In the field, he excelled at point. He played in numberless matches for the M.C.C., and assisted Northumberland for several years, being a merchant at Newcastle-on-Tyne. In June, 1882, he appeared for the M.C.C. against Leicestershire, at Lord's, this being the match in which Barnes (266) and Midwinter (187) added 454 runs together for the third wicket. Two years later he assisted the M.C. C. against York-shire, at Lord's, and proved the highest scorer in the first innings with 33, made against the bowling of Peel, Preston, Bates, Peate, Ulyett, and Emmett. The match was a notable one, inasmuch as Gunn (203) and Barnes (140 not out) added 330 runs in partnership for the fourth wicket, so lengthy a stand being then a much rarer occurrence than it is now. Mr. Russel assisted in other matches which have become historic-the one at Lord's, in 1885, between the M.C.C. and Ground and Rutland, in which the former made 643 for eight wickets in their second innings, and that between the M. C. C. and Ground and Wiltshire, in 1888-also at Lord's-in which the premier club obtained a total of 735 for nine wickets, which still ranks as the highest ever hit at headquarters. In the Rutland match Mr. Russel made only 31 (the Rev. P. Hatteraley-Smith obtained 132, and Mr. F. Maude 141), but against Wiltshire he scored 196 runs for the first wicket in partnership with Mr. E. Sainsbury (180), before he was hurt and obliged to retire altogether from the game with a total of 54 to his credit.

Probably, his most notable performance was accomplished in the M.C.C. match against Somersetshire, at Lord's, in 1882, in which he scored 56 and 83, in each innings making more runs than any other two men put together. In minor cricket, he was a prolific run-getter, and made large scores all over the country. His highest innings was 168 for M. C. C. and Ground against Hampstead, at Lord's, in 1879. When Mr. Henry Perkins resigned the secretary-ship of the Marylebone Club, Mr. Russel put up for election, but, as he withdrew at the last moment, no poll was necessary.

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