The West Indian all-rounder has pulled out due to international commitments and Guyana’s status on the UK travel red list.
His place has quickly been filled by Colin de Grandhomme who has made a big impression at Hampshire since joining the county following New Zealand’s win against India in the World Test Championship.
Russell is one of world cricket’s box office stars, having scored over 6,000 runs in 364 T20 matches - with a blistering strike rate of 169.8 - and taking 321 wickets.
De Grandhomme, though, has the second fastest strike rate in T20 history - 161.1, only Russell is ahead of him - of anyone who has 1,000 runs to their name. He has also taken 68 wickets.
Hampshire fans had an early glimpse of de Grandhomme’s ability when he struck 66 off 44 balls on his T20 Blast debut for the county at Taunton last month.
The Southern Brave have now lost both their overseas marquee signings, as Australian David Warner withdrew a few weeks ago. His place has been taken by de Grandhomme’s international colleague Devon Conway.
Hampshire pair James Vince and Liam Dawson are also in the Brave squad, but there is some doubt over whether Jofra Archer will be fit enough to take part following his elbow surgery in May.
Another big name player who has withdrawn from The Hundred is Russell’s West Indian colleague Kieron Pollard. He was due to play for Welsh Fire but has pulled out due to injury.
Kiwi Glenn Phillips, who has been playing for Gloucestershire, will replace Pollard.
Derbyshire have cancelled the final two matches of their Vitality Blast campaign due to a lack of available players, as the ongoing surge of coronavirus threatens to destabilise county cricket.
Derbyshire’s most recent LCounty Championship match against Essex had already been abandoned after one day’s play after a positive case led to the entire squad being identified as close contacts.
With half-a-dozen injuries to cope with they have not been able to summon a replacement XI – as Kent did when faced with similar circumstances ahead of their game with Sussex over the weekend.
As such, scheduled fixtures against Northamptonshire and Yorkshire have been scrubbed from the calendar and the competition’s North Group league table will be settled on points average.
With the England one-day team having also been forced into a drastic change ahead of the Royal London Series against Pakistan – with an emergency squad called up at short notice following an outbreak in the camp – it appears inevitable that more such instances will occur as teams continue to fulfil engagements up and down the country.
And with dozens of players due to depart for The Hundred, the strain on the parallel Royal London Cup could become overwhelming. While some domestic teams have barely lost any senior squad members to the new franchise tournament, others - including Surrey - have seen 10 or more players sign up.
There are mechanisms in place for Hundred franchises to dip further into the county well should they sustain injuries or Covid withdrawals, a move that would only serve to further chip away at the remaining playing staffs.