Cricket: Stewart is left biting his lip

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The Independent Online
DEPOSED CAPTAIN Alec Stewart last night put a brave face on his relegation to the England ranks before tomorrow's first Test. But he did express frustration over the selectors' indecision. Speaking for the first time about being replaced by Nasser Hussain as England began their preparation for the first Test tomorrow, Stewart maintained a diplomatic front.

"After the World Cup they wanted to be seen to make a change and that's what they've done," said Stewart "People can use the word scapegoat and it's up to them what they say, but a decision and a change was made and you're expected to go along with it.

"Going out of the World Cup at the first hurdle was disappointing for the crowd, the players and everybody and that's why a change was made."

As distressing as the World Cup exit was for Stewart and everybody involved in the England set-up, his pain was hardly eased by the seemingly endless speculation about his position in the three and a half weeks between the defeat by India and the announcement Hussain would become the new captain last Thursday.

Stewart said: "The only relief I had was that they had finally made a decision. I kept reading that Nasser was captain, but I didn't find out until Thursday morning when I got a phone call from David Graveney telling me Nasser was going to be captain.

"They had to make a decision and if it took them three or four weeks then that's how long it took them. There was a lot of press coverage and headlines that Nasser was captain, but you have to take it in your stride."

Shane Warne's return to one-day form has failed to guarantee him a recall to the Australian Test side. The Australian chairman of selectors, Trevor Hohns, said only time would tell if Warne would win back his Test spot despite the leg-spinner's contribution to Australia's World Cup victory.

Warne had said he will consider his future after pointing out that Stuart MacGill is the incumbent Test spinner. Australia's next Test is against Sri Lanka in Kandy on 9 September and Warne will have only a four-day tour match the previous week to convince selectors his shoulder can cope.

A Scottish player has been suspended after being accused of spitting on an opponent. Heriot's opener Chris Goddard is alleged to have committed the offence during Saturday's National League match with Fergulsie.

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