Stewart faces new Condon crisis

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The Independent Online

Alec Stewart's long international cricket career was thrown further into turmoil last night by a potentially damning statement from the International Cricket Council. The wicket-keeper batsman, who is captaining England in the current one-day series, may be hard-pressed to rebuff claims from the game's governing body that he has, in effect, been trying to avoid being interviewed by the Anti-Corruption Unit headed by Lord Condon.

Stewart was named last year in the Indian CBI's report in which the bookmaker, M K Gupta, claimed that he had given the player $5,000 for match information on the England tour of India in 1992. Stewart has constantly denied the allegations.

He has yet to be formally interviewed by the ACU, and last night the ACU explained why. "The ACU has been anxious to meet with Alec Stewart for an interview regarding allegations on the CBI report since January. Negotiations have been conducted primarily through Mr Stewart's lawyer and the ACU is becoming increasingly frustrated by the inability of Mr Stewart and his advisers to agree a convenient date. However, the ACU remain determined to meet with Mr Stewart."

Lord MacLaurin, the chairman of the England and Wales Cricket Board, has consistently expressed his authority's desire to act swiftly on match-rigging. Stewart's alleged crime may not be heinous but MacLaurin may have to move now.