London: England captain Nasser Hussain indicated on Monday that veteran wicket- keeper Alec Stewart would remain in the international wilderness for some time to come.
Stewart, 39, opted out of England's tour to India and was then left out by the selectors for the subsequent tour of New Zealand. While 22-year-old James Foster, one of 11 England players who, unlike Stewart, were awarded a central contract, took up the gloves the Surrey star stayed at home for an operation on his elbows. But he has started this season in fine form with two 90s in county championship matches. Foster, an Essex teammate of Hussain's, had an error-strewn tour behind the stumps but the England captain said, "We have got to give him (Foster) a go. He's the future. Obviously Alec's name will come up from time to time, he's a world-class cricketer. "But there's no point in us going round in circles. Mistakes are made by every young player that comes into international cricket, Graham Thorpe and Marcus Trescothick are the only two that have come in and been major successes straightaway," Hussain said. "In my time I hope to give every young cricketer that comes, whoever they may be, a chance." Hussain insisted that those outside the charmed circle of 11 would still have a chance of being selected for the first Test against Sri Lanka at Lord's on May 16. "People just look at the contracts and see that as being the team, thinking that others cannot get in. But the contracts and the team that we will select next week are different," Hussain said. "We will look at the conditions at Lord's, when we have played well there and how we have won games there before and will pick a side to beat Sri Lanka. "The boys with the contracts, of course, will be high on our lists." However, Hussain added that long-term development of players as well as short-term success would be high on his list of priorities. "I think that's the balance for me. It's easy for the selectors to pick our best side to try and win this Test series," Hussain said. "But Duncan (Fletcher, the England coach) has a saying about looking after the next week or looking after the future. Which is most important? It's selfish to look after the next week - we have a responsibility beyond that," said Hussain, speaking at the launch of a scheme, the Lion's Den, to attract more children into cricket. "English cricket demands success, however, so we have to try and balance it and beat Sri Lanka and India." Following its three Test series against Sri Lanka, England will go into a triangular One-day competition also involving India before playing India in four Tests.
Hectic schedule can burn-out players, warns Hussain