Stewart calls time on 22-year Surrey career

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The Independent Online

Alec Stewart is considering an offer from Surrey to become an ambassador for the county following his decision to end a 22-year career by announcing his retirement from all first-class cricket.

The 40-year-old wicketkeeper-batsman made the expected announcement just a week after his emotional end to Test cricket, when he helped England square the series with victory over South Africa in last week's fifth Test at the Oval.

He is already considering various offers for the next stage of his life, which are thought to include media work and the possibility of sports hospitality, and has now been offered the chance to extend the Stewart family association with Surrey past this summer.

Having followed his father, Micky, to The Oval, Surrey have now offered him the chance to be an ambassador - a role which could also develop into his coaching the emerging youngsters at Surrey's Academy.

"Playing for Surrey has been a fantastic privilege," enthused Stewart yesterday. "I've been lucky enough to play with some great players and to be a part of the huge success the club has achieved over the last eight years."

Today's announcement follows weeks of soul-searching. He admitted that he did not know if he could continue to motivate himself without having the goal of an England career to strive for, claiming recently: "I've always set my sights on trying to play at the highest level, once that's gone I've got to work out if just playing county cricket without the bonus of playing international cricket is worth it and I've got to ask myself why am I still playing?"

Since making his Surrey debut in 1981, Stewart has helped them win the Benson & Hedges Cup twice, the Sunday League and the NatWest Trophy once and three championships and scored 26,165 runs at an average of 40.06 in 447 first-class matches.

"He will undoubtedly be remembered as the greatest Surrey player of modern times and we're discussing with Alec a new role as an ambassador for the club," said Paul Sheldon, Surrey's chief executive."

* The 31-year -old Australian all-rounder Ian Harvey has rejected a new contract offer from Gloucestershire for next season.