England and Gloucestershire legend – and friend of The Wick – Jack Russell took some time out from painting and being an all-round decent bloke to give his top tips on how to improve as a wicketkeeper.

How do you stay confident when standing up to the stumps?

Standing up to the stumps is mainly about concentration. If something surprises you and you’re not ready for it then you’re not concentrating properly. Also, an intense (mentally) focus on the ball at all times is key, even when you lose it for a second through the gate or down the leg side. A lot of keepers don’t watch the ball hard enough during the last two or three feet. They may think they are but it’s easy not to. Important not to let the batsman put you off. Practise batsman putting you off and get used to it. It’s all mental discipline and control.

What do you do if you miss a ball?

How you react to this is crucial. You have to put it out of your mind, as you should do if you do something brilliant. Don’t take any baggage mentally into the next delivery. Each delivery is a fresh challenge. Leave it to the end of the day, then work out what might have happened. With good things you’ve done as well. Work out what you did well and remember it.

What about preparations?

The better prepared you are the better you will play consistently. That includes fitness. We all make mistakes when we’re tired so you have to be the fittest physically and mentally to give yourself the best chance. With drills make sure you practise the difficult things. There’s two types of practice. One is practicing to be perfect. Two is your practising to extend your abilities and skill. It doesn’t matter if you make mistakes because you’re looking to push boundaries. Eg: diving catches one handed, try and take catches you can’t reach. Or Yorker length delivers stood up to the stumps. Always practise taking balls off the bowlers you are going to keep wicket to, especially spinners. You can never do enough if it AND DON’T get bored doing it. If you get bored, stop! Because you’ll be practising bad mental processes. Make your bowlers do it because they’re also going to benefit with extra wickets!!! Hope that helps.

Any good books out there?

Luke Sutton has a great book out called “The Wonderful World Of Wicketkeepers” which I can recommend. Also – James Knott and Andy O’Connor’s book on keeping is great.

What was your best take?

That has to be one handed, stood up to seam bowler Mike Cawdren at Lord’s Glos v Somerset Nat West Final 1999 (saved 4 wides!).

Following last year’s devastating fire, Jack helped us raise more than £6,000 by generously donating a print of one of his paintings for our fundraising auction. Thanks again Jack for your help and support from all of us at The Wick?