Stewart eyes England win

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The Independent Online

Veteran Alec Stewart has likened tomorrow's ICC Knockout opponents Bangladesh to a minor counties side - but warned England to avoid complacency.

Veteran Alec Stewart has likened tomorrow's ICC Knockout opponents Bangladesh to a minor counties side - but warned England to avoid complacency.

Stewart believes England are right mentally and should easily defeat a nation only recently awarded full Test status

He said: "This is a bit like playing in a NatWest first round against a Minor County," said England's wicketkeeper-batsman and general linchpin.

"You expect to win and you need to have an arrogance. But you cannot afford to be complacent or you might come unstuck."

Stewart added England have been heartened by their successful summer against West Indies and Zimbabwe and by Monday's encouraging display in a practice match against Australia which finished in a tie at the Simba Union ground.

The only downer for England from that match was a calf injury to Ashley Giles. The Warwickshire slow left-armer did not practise today and is most unlikely to recover in time for tomorrow.

The good news, though, was a glimpse of a return to form for captain Nasser Hussain who hit the ball cleanly until he was snapped up for 21 via a brilliant return catch by Ian Harvey.

Stewart believes Hussain is on his way back with the bat after a very poor return last summer - and he reckons the rest from county commitments facilitated by central contracts has been of great benefit to all the England squad.

"Nasser has looked good," he said.

"It was a great shot he played to get off the mark yesterday - and then it needed a fantastic catch to get rid of him.

"Since the season finished he has had a good break. He said he had not picked up a bat since The Oval Test. I think that is the right thing to do."

Focusing on what is the original no-win situation for England, Stewart confessed he knows little himself about the opposition awaiting him at the Gymkhana Club tomorrow.

But he refused to entertain negative thoughts before a match England must win to progress in this mini-World Cup.

"I would not have a clue what they can do," he admitted. "But what is important is that we play well.

"When we win a series or England play well the public and the media get right behind us - and that is good to have.

"You want it to continue."

England may have had some rest before flying out to Nairobi, but they have unquestionably worked hard in the nets since their arrival, and Stewart insists that is because they truly want to do well in this tournament and throughout the winter.

"This is a good competition," he stressed.

"People seem to have belittled it a little bit. But to me this is a mini-World Cup. If you win it you should be proud to have won it."

The team helping Stewart and Hussain to win tomorrow will not include Giles, and the other man likely to miss out is late call-up Vikram Solanki.

Giles apart, everyone has reported fit. All the front-line batsmen have proved themselves in encouraging form, and of the bowlers Andrew Caddick looked to be right in the groove against Australia.

Bangladesh's main hopes, according to captain Naimur Rahman, are experienced batsmen Aminul Islam and Akram Khan, while Habibul Bashar is a young gun who might be capable of making runs too.

The England squad is: M Trescothick, A Stewart(w/k), N Hussain(c), G Hick, G Thorpe, C White, M Alleyne, M Ealham, A Flintoff, D Gough, A Caddick, M Hoggard

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