Jack Russell: Bairstow's wicketkeeping has improved by leaps and bounds

The former England wicketkeeper shares the nuances of keeping wickets on English grounds, including the famous 'slope at Lord's' and how it has an effect on wicketkeepers.

An instance of Jack Russell keeping up to the stumps.   -  V. V. Krishnan

With 54 Tests and 40 ODIs under his belt, former England wicketkeeper Jack Russell is one of the best the country has produced since Alan Knott.

Russell, who retired from Test cricket in 1998, was a throwback to an era when keeping was still a specialist job. And the Gloucestershire stumper - renowned for standing up to the stumps against medium-pacers - reckons the best way for Indian keeper Dinesh Karthik to succeed in the Test series "is to stay very relaxed with the hands and not get uptight."

"Move with the ball as the late swing takes place. Sometimes the ball swings both ways as it’s coming to you, it “wobbles” so staying relaxed is important," Russell tells Sportstar.

Recalling his stint during the 1996 World Cup in the subcontinent, where England lost to eventual champion Sri Lanka in the quarterfinal, Russell says he "ended up standing up to everyone."

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"The ball carrying stood back, you had to stand so close. It made more sense," he points out.

England can be a challenging place to keep wickets. The pace and bounce coupled with swing - sometimes the ball swings after passing the stumps - make it difficult to track the trajectory of the ball.

Russell, although he loved playing at Trent Bridge, feels "it can be awkward [keeping wickets] because of the two-paced pitch, you never seemed to be in the right place distance wise.

"At Lord’s, you have to remember the laws of physics in terms of the slope with your movements up and down the hill, together with the correct position of your first slip. Diving down the hill is easier. By and large, they’re all great grounds to keep on."

Russell believes Jonny Bairstow, who is England's Test wicketkeeper, has considerably improved on his glovework. "Jonny has come on leaps and bounds with his keeping in the last couple of years since the tour to South Africa. Bruce French is the England keeping coach, so he’s in good hands there. That’s one reason, plus Jonny’s a hard worker, he’s improved," Russell notes.

"It should be an intriguing series; I am looking forward to it."