Cricket: Stewart leaves in good heart

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The Independent Online
Micky Stewart leaves Lord's next month, happy at last that English cricket is going in the right direction.

Stewart, the former England team manager, has reached retirement and is being succeeded on 1 January by the former Glamorgan captain, Hugh Morris, as the England Cricket Board's technical director.

Stewart, the ECB's director of coaching and excellence, said: "The message that some of us have been preaching for quite a while now is finally getting through. The success of everything we do in the development of cricket and cricketers will, of course, be judged in how we perform right at the top at Test level.

"But I think that, with players like Ben Hollioake, Owais Shah and David Sales coming through, we are already beginning to see the fruits of the development of excellence scheme at Under-17 and Under-19 level which was set up in 1990 - and in which people like Graham Saville, John Abrahams and Gordon Lord work so hard.

"At the moment people might say that the selection of half a dozen or so teenagers for this winter's England A tour is just coincidence. I believe that we will still be producing players in five years' time - which will then prove that it is not chance."

Makhaya Ntini will today become the first black African to play cricket for South Africa. The 20-year-old fast bowler has been called up for South Africa's opening match of their Australian tour, a one-day game with an Australian Cricket Board Chairman's XI taking place near Perth.