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The Man of Substance - Alec Stewart

Written by: Nivedita Aluri
Published: Thursday, July 31, 2003, 21:19 [IST]
 
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Bangalore: The 40-year 'young' Alec Stewart has reached yet another milestone - playing his match number 300 for England in the second Test against South Africa at the Lord's. Already retired from the One-day version after the World Cup, he has announced his intentions to sign off from Test cricket after the current series against South Africa. Stewart has once again proved that age has nothing to do with sports as long as you keep yourself fit; even his strongest critics cannot deny on this at least in this case.

Since his debut in 1989/90 after taking over from Jack Russell, for years he has been England's most dependable wicketkeeper and batsman. Though his stint as the England skipper has not been as successful, he will certainly be remembered for leading the England side to their first major series win for 12 years after taking over the reins from Mike Atherton in 1998. Although the failure of the England team in the '99 World Cup cost the captaincy for Stewart, one always felt his sacking was unfair.

Ironically, Stewart always seemed to have failed in landmark matches. England played terribly to collapse for 173 and again Stewart was out for 7 during the first innings of the second Test against the Proteas.

'Determination' is the middle name of Stewart. He is one of the shrewdest and toughest guys in the game. His will power to continue in the game has kept him from losing his place even at double the age of a few of his teammates.

When the selectors did not consider him for a while after he decided not to tour India in 2001-02, he did his best to get back into the squad when his junior, James Foster, was out due to injury; though Foster never got a chance to claim back his place in the squad again.

Standing tall with 170 One-day Internationals and 130 Test matches behind him, Stewart has been an ideal idol for many youngsters. His statistics both in ODIs and Test speak volumes about his competence in both versions of the game.

England's most capped Test player, Stewart scored 4667 ODI runs at an average of 31.60 and 8326 at an average of 40.02. He has claimed 264 Test and 174 ODI victims behind the stumps till date.

Rightly honoured by the Queen of England with 'The Order of the British Empire' (OBE) for his services rendered for the revival of the fortunes of the England team, Stewart definitely deserves all the praise. For me Stewart truly deserves to be called 'The Man of Substance'.

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