Cricket: Stewart stands by status quo

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The Independent Online
ALEC STEWART does not expect to be handed the wicketkeeper's gloves for the fifth Test against the West Indies in Barbados next week.

The England opener gave a clear indication yesterday of his thinking for the match. In the past England have often reacted to times of crisis by using Stewart's all-round capabilities as a means of putting an extra bowler or batsman in the line-up.

However, Stewart believes a return to three seamers and one spinner is more likely after the defeat in Guyana, which has left England 2-1 down with two Tests to play. He said: "I would do it, as always, if I was asked, but I would be surprised if we change the wicketkeeper now. I'm not on the selection committee, but no-one has spoken to me about keeping. If that's the way they want to go, then fine, but I don't think it will be."

Stewart feels the main requirement for the Barbados Test is getting England's batting firing as a unit. "I know it might sound a bit strange, because scores have been generally low and we've struggled to get going, but I don't think that any of our batsmen are out of form," he said. "Mike Atherton, for instance, is moving well at the crease and you can say the same for Nasser Hussain and Graham Thorpe. It's never been straightforward making runs against the West Indies, but the pitches and a high-seam ball have made it very difficult for us."

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