England wicket-keeper turned artist Jack Russell has unveiled a unique piece of ‘Cric-art’ painted on a canvas of bats at Lord’s.
The work, commissioned by Chance to Shine (opens in a new window) to promote their Brit Insurance National Cricket Day on Thursday 23 June, is the first oil on cricket bats painting.
Ex-Gloucestershire gloveman Russell depicts a typical English village cricket scene which took him 100 hours to complete - spaced over a three week period.
The work will be displayed at Lord’s later this summer before being sold off to raise funds for Chance to Shine.
Russell, who has worked full time as an artist since retiring from cricket in 2004, said he enjoyed the challenge of working outside of his comfort zone on the project.
“It was quite refreshing really.” said the 47-year-old.
“The scene is not particularly different but the fact of trying to make it work on that surface and make the right impact was a challenge.
“It’s quite an unusual surface – not because of the wood but because of the shapes of the bat, they’re not flat.
“It was something different and artists will tell you if you do something different you get a buzz from it and it’s enjoyable.
“I’ve painted on single bats before. Graham Gooch gave me the bat he got 333 at Lord’s with which is in the MCC Museum but never bats which have been put together like this.”
The Chance to Shine initiative, run by the Cricket Foundation charity in association with MCC, is working to take competitive cricket into at least a third of UK state schools.
Six years on from its launch, the scheme has reached over 1 million children across the country.
Its National Cricket Day is open to all schools and cricket clubs who can join in with a day of cricket themed activity in and out of the classroom.
Russell, who attended Archway Comprehensive School in Stroud, said it was an honour to be a part of the scheme.
“The Chance to shine project has been brilliant over the years. I think they’ve reached a million children now and that’s unbelievable – outstanding.” added Russel, who played 54 Tests and 40 One Day Internationals for England.
“So to be involved, especially with the National Cricket Day coming up, is excellent. The work the Cricket Foundation do is fantastic and it’s an honour to be involved.
“State school is where I came from and a lot of Test cricketers come from that level where you need your teachers and PE teachers, understanding headmasters etc so you can put your time into the sport.”
Russell also enjoyed spending time back at Lord’s, 23 years on from his Test debut at the Home of Cricket against Sri Lanka in 1988.
“It’s nice to be back at Lord’s as well because I love this place. I get a buzz every time I come here. It’s a magical stage out there and I’ve loved my time out there.
“You get a buzz even when it’s empty because it’s a magical place.”