The 28-year old was released by Worcester at the end of the 2016 season, but remained in the Midlands to play ECB Birmingham & District Premier League cricket for Wolverhampton, helping his side into the Royal London national club championship semi-finals.
Returning to play for (and captain) Ventnor will be strange for Russell, who has only ever played three Southern Premier League matches for the island club – the most recent ten years ago in 2007 !
“I played all my junior cricket at Steephill and remember making my league debut against Rowledge in May 2006, but then only played a couple more Ventnor matches the following season before heading off to Worcestershire for what turned out to be a ten-year Midlands stint,” he reflected.
“But I’m really looking forward to the challenge of getting the club back on its feet and back competing for honours.
“We need to bring in some players, certainly one or two batters, and since I came back to the island and was appointed Ventnor captain I’ve spoken to one or two and the vibes have been encouraging.
“We got some young, talented players and it’s important they remain at the club because the opportunities will be there for them.”
Russell’s six-wicket haul against the South African tourists in 2012 will be regarded as his best achievement at New Road, although he took 4-43 (v Warwickshire) in his First Class debut at Edgbaston shortly afterwards.
He played 18 first-class matches for Worcestershire (taking 38 wickets) and made a further 22 appearances in one-day and Twenty20 games before being released.
Russell was Worcestershire’s star performer and leading wicket-taker in NatWest T20 Blast 2014 as he scalped 16 wickets in eight games, making a name for himself.
In recent seasons, Russell has had to satisfy himself playing in the demanding Birmingham Premier League arena and, in the winter months, for Bellville, helping the Cape Town club win last year’s Western Province title.
“But those days are gone now. I had ten enjoyable years playing against some top cricketers, but now its pay-back time and I owe Ventnor a lot for helping me develop as a teenager and pointing me towards the county game,” he concluded.
“Once we get Christmas out of the way, I intend to get things up and running, with a lot of pre-season fitness work and properly constructed net practice sessions.
“I intend to make it enjoyable and get the club feel back into Ventnor.”