Injury fears played down by Stewart

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Alec Stewart yesterday dismissed reports that he needed a check-up on his suspect right index finger before leaving with England on their tour of South Africa next week.

Stewart had a net at The Oval with the England batting coach, John Edrich, but denied it was to test the finger, which he broke for the third time in eight months in July and which then kept him out of action for the rest of the season.

"I think there has been some duff information," the England vice-captain said. "It was not a fitness test. It was just a net with John Edrich because he is the England batting coach and he was having a look. I have been testing out a special plastic splint, but everything is OK. I'm fit and raring to go."