Cricket: Stewart gives op the elbow for call-up.Byline: RICHARD GIBSON
ALEC STEWART Alec James Stewart OBE (born 8 April, 1963 in Merton, Greater London) is a retired English cricketer, a right-handed batsman-wicketkeeper and former captain of the English cricket team. is intent on sabotaging England's long-term plans to guarantee an international send-off this winter.
Stewart, 39, wins his 116th Test cap at Lord's against Sri Lanka Sri Lanka (srē läng`kə) [Sinhalese,=resplendent land], formerly Ceylon, ancient Taprobane, officially Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka, island republic (2005 est. pop. tomorrow due to James Foster's broken arm.
And Surrey's veteran wicketkeeper is keen to keep possession of the gloves beyond this current series, with half an eye on this winter's Ashes tour and the World Cup in South Africa South Africa, Afrikaans Suid-Afrika, officially Republic of South Africa, republic (2005 est. pop. 44,344,000), 471,442 sq mi (1,221,037 sq km), S Africa. .
When the former England captain For information about the captains of England sports teams see the articles on the sports team in question. For example:
So unswerving, in fact, has been the belief put in him by coach Duncan Fletcher
Duncan Andrew Gwynne Fletcher OBE (born 27 September 1948) is a former Zimbabwean cricketer, former captain of the Zimbabwean cricket team and former coach of the English cricket team. and Nasser Hussain that even in spite of some glaring errors Foster was named among the 11 to earn central contracts this summer.
That decision appeared to shut the door on Stewart, whose refusal to go to the subcontinent last October led to the England management providing him with the ultimatum to travel or miss out on the second leg of the winter in New Zealand New Zealand (zē`lənd), island country (2005 est. pop. 4,035,000), 104,454 sq mi (270,534 sq km), in the S Pacific Ocean, over 1,000 mi (1,600 km) SE of Australia. The capital is Wellington; the largest city and leading port is Auckland. .
Stewart's reluctance had been, unlike Andrew Caddick and Robert Croft who cited safety concerns, in some part related to past allegations, later proved unfounded, that he took money in exchange for information from an Indian bookmaker.
However, he had also earmarked the winter to have operations on his troublesome elbows and would not have been fit until mid-March.
Stewart does not wish to dwell on to continue long on or in; to remain absorbed with; to stick to; to make much of; as, to dwell upon a subject; a singer dwells on a note s>.
See also: Dwell the past, though, given his opportunity to ensure the door is not merely ajar but open again permanently.
``If James had been fit, I would not be playing the first few games of this summer,'' he admitted.
``It's a very unfortunate injury for him but from a purely selfish point of view, it gives me a chance now to get back into the side.
``While I am in possession I shall certainly give it my best to produce and stay in the side.
``What the selectors do when James is fit is up to them. All I can do is try and give them a headache and keep performing well.'' Dropped for one Test against India back in 1996, Stewart returned to become the leading scorer in the world that year.
``This time around I got in through James' bad luck but I want to keep playing, I still have my sights set on the Ashes and the World Cup as long as the door isn't shut once James is fit,'' he added.
On the back of his first free off-season for 13 years, Stewart returned to the county game fresh and full of runs, twice recording scores in the 90s in his first two championship matches for Surrey.
His ability to keep wicket and bat in the top six has been crucial to England's success in the past four years. But he is likely to walk out at Lord's with England six wickets down, should they, as expected, field a four-man seam attack.
That would mean Andrew Flintoff, who struck his debut Test ton recently coming in one before him at seven.
``I am not stupid, Andrew Flintoff has just smacked a hundred in New Zealand and he's just smacked us for a hundred at The Oval,'' admitted Stewart.
Reflecting on the fact England have not won a Test series in their last four attempts, Stewart said: ``You always have to have one eye on the future.
``But if all you do is look to the future you never pick your best side for now - it's about getting the balance right.''
Meanwhile, Stewart, who becomes the thirdmost capped Englishman this week, is hoping to be able to walk away rather than be pushed out of the international arena, hinting that he will have retired within 12 months.
That, he argues, would be a natural time for England to reassess their future.
``I set myself goals; two years ago I said I wanted to be involved in the Ashes series Australia last summer.
``Now it would be nice to have one last crack at the Australians and it would be nice to play at the World Cup.
``After that, realistically would I carry on? It would have to be a huge question mark.''
BACK: Coach Duncan Fletcher with Alec Stewart in the nets yesterday