Stewart To Retire From Test Cricket — 22/07/2003
Alec Stewart announced earlier in the season that he will retire from Test cricket at the end of the summer. To date Stewart has played in 132 Test matches and has made nearly 8,500 runs. Stewart averages around 40 with the bat in Test cricket and has notched up 15 centuries. The majority of his England career has been behind the stumps where he has taken 259 catches and 14 stumpings.
Stewart has been an ever present in the England side since his debut at Sabina Park, Kingston, Jamaica back in February 1990 and is England’s most capped cricketer. He rates the back to back centuries against the West Indies in Bridgetown, Barbados in 1993/4 and the series win as captain over South Africa in 1998 as highlights of his international career.
England Chairman of Selectors David Graveney spoke to cricnet about Alec’s decision to retire,
“Alec has certainly been under no pressure from me to retire, but he said that for the first time, he’s not sure what he wants to do at the end of the summer.
“His service to England has been enormous and like Mike Atherton, it is only right that he should decide his fate, and, form and injury permitting, bow out in the last Test of the summer at the Oval.
“In my time as a selector he has been the only international class all rounder England have had. I just hope that he continues to make the contributions over this summer we have become accustomed to when he is playing for England.”
Richard Bevan, Group Chief Executive of the Professional Cricketers’ Association paid this tribute to Stewart,
“I have worked closely with Alec for a number of years in the Team England Player Partnership. He has been a phenomenal servant to the game and has made a great contribution to English cricket as a whole. It would be fitting if he did finish his Test career at his home ground — the Oval.”
Worcestershire wicket keeper Steve Rhodes, who played eleven Test matches for England in the mid-nineties, commented,
“The first thing that springs to mind with Alec is professionalism. He is a model pro and a tough competitor who is always up for the fight. If he was playing cricket against his son, he wouldn’t give an inch.
“I played against him in a second team match in our early years and he was a tidy keeper then. Then he stopped keeping for a while and I think he came back a bit rusty. But typical of the man, he worked hard at his game to become one of the most polished international keepers around. If there is anything with his game he is not happy with, he works on it until he is satisfied. Alec is a true pro.”
Nottinghamshire Wicket keeper Chris read, who took over from Stewart in England’s one-day side this summer, had this to say on Stewart’s international career,
“Alec is a terrific guy and it goes without saying that he has been awesome for England. He was in the side when I first walked into the England dressing room on my Test debut, and went out of his way to make me feel part of the team.
“I toured South Africa with him and we worked together closely helping each other out. (laughs) To be honest it was mostly Alec helping me out!
“I think one of the reasons he has stayed at the top for so long is his superb physical fitness. He is always so alive on the field. Alec is also a superb technician in everything he does.
“His batting average is over 40. Most batsmen would be delighted with that, and when you add his keeping to that you can see he is a world class all rounder.”
A Fitting Highlight
The five Test series against South Africa began in July at Edgbaston, Birmingham. Stewart has once again performed consistently for England throughout the series, and his last Test match at the Oval should provide one more fitting highlight to what has been a superb international career.