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Russell ready for the challenge
12:00pm Wednesday 15th August 2012 in WCCC
CHRIS Russell says the world of first team cricket has been an eye-opener — but he is revelling in the challenge.
The 23-year-old seam bowler has launched himself into the spotlight at New Road in recent weeks with some impressive performances.
Fresh from taking a steady stream of wickets in the second XI, Russell was thrust centre-stage against South Africa in July and he responded with six wickets.
He claimed three in each of the tourists’ innings with Proteas openers Jacques Rudolph and Alviro Petersen among his scalps.
Despite his heroics, Russell was overlooked for the LV= County Championship Division One trip to Sussex earlier this month, which ended in a crushing innings and 117-run defeat.
But director of cricket Steve Rhodes restored the bowler to his attack for last week’s Warwickshire clash at Edgbaston, where another six-wicket haul was one of the few highlights in a seven-wicket defeat.
Russell clearly relishes being in the first team mix and is eager to sample more in the coming weeks and months, starting against Lancashire at New Road today.
“I’ve been chuffed to bits with it,” he said. “I was given a chance against South Africa and that went really well. I just missed out on playing in the Sussex game and to get the call-up against Warwickshire meant a lot and I was quite lucky to pick up some sticks.
“It’s a massive step up from second team to the first, you’ve got guys who have got Test hundreds coming in at eight. “The batting of teams is so deep and you’ve just got to keep doing what you do. It’s a big challenge and I really enjoy playing.
“You try and concentrate as much as you can in all forms you play but when you’re in the first team there’s a couple of thousand people watching and it’s so crucial to be switched on every minute.
“It’s the experience as well, I think people thrive off it and I know I do. I’ve stepped up every time I’ve played and for some reason I’ve always gone really well.
“The concentration levels are so much higher, I come off the field absolutely knackered. I might have bowled the same but mentally it just drains you that extra bit.”
Russell now has his sights set on becoming a regular in Rhodes’ side and securing a deal for next season.
“Hopefully, now I’ve managed to work my way in I can keep my place and keep doing what I do and become a more established member,” he said.
“My contract’s up this year so I’ve got to work towards getting another one.
“Hopefully, these last couple of weeks have done me a few favours.
“I want to stay fit and strong and be ready to go again next season and hopefully maintain my place in the first team.
“It’s a really good set-up, a great set of lads and it’s amazing to be in the Worcestershire dressing room.”