Stewart gives England options for rejuvenation

Cricket

Mike Atherton has hinted that England are ready to tear up their World Cup plans and start all over again. That could mean Alec Stewart keeping wicket and Robin Smith replacing his namesake Neil as the captain's opening partner against Pakistan on Sunday. "We are not playing to our potential and must do some experimentation," Atherton admitted.

Stewart, who looks in reasonable form but keeps getting himself out, is the most obvious candidate to face the daunting new-ball attack of Wasim Akram and Waqar Younis. But Robin Smith, yet to play in the tournament, represents another option, providing he can finally declare himself fit after groin and calf injuries.

Neil Smith's promotion to opener has not worked and it has deprived Atherton of a chance to regain his touch and timing with the opportunity of easy runs at the top of the order against the United Arab Emirates and the Netherlands.

Robin Smith, a powerful puller and cutter, seems as likely as anyone to take advantage of the 15-over rule when only two fielders are allowed outside the circle.

If England take that route then Stewart will either be dropped, included in the middle order at the expense of Neil Fairbrother, or given the wicketkeeping gloves.

"I think there will be discussion about it," Stewart said when asked whether England would consider using him as wicketkeeper. "I'm happy to do it if that's what is decided. I've probably kept wicket in 30 of our last 40 one-day internationals."

That would be hard on Jack Russell, who has done little wrong, but once again the lack of a genuine all-rounder in the England side could lead the Gloucestershire man being left out.

"Jack had an exceptional tour of South Africa, both keeping and with the bat," Stewart said. "If a change is made, it will be through no fault of his but because the batsmen have not played well enough. "

Stewart has dismayed many with the manner of his dismissals on the tour of South Africa and in this World Cup - with the run out against South Africa probably the worst of the lot.

Normally, the vice-captain can be relied upon to scamper the sort of quick singles that are vital during one-day matches but last Sunday he failed to ground his bat and was run out by Pat Symcox. "It was an elementary mistake," he admitted.

As for the bowling attack, Richard Illingworth seems set to return on Sunday after missing two matches through illness. If Neil Smith plays, Atherton can have three spinners, including Graeme Hick, at his disposal for the first time in the tournament.

Atherton has conceded that he would be "disappointed but not surprised" if failure in the World Cup cost him his job. However, Raymond Illingworth, the England manager, has said that, provided he is still in charge, next summer Atherton will continue as captain no matter what happens between now and then.

World Cup update

TODAY

GROUP A: West Indies v Kenya (at Nehru stadium, Poona, India). TV: Sky Sports: Highlights 19.00-22.00.

GROUP B: Pakistan v South Africa (at National stadium, Karachi, Pakistan). TV: Sky Sports: Live 03.45-12.00.

TOMORROW

GROUP A: Australia v Zimbabwe (at Vidarbha Association ground, Nagpur, India). TV: Sky Sports: Live 03.15-11.30.

GROUP B: Netherlands v UAE (at Gaddafi Stadium, Lahore, Pakistan). TV: Sky Sports: Live 11.30-17.00.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Guru Careers: Software Developer

£30 - 35k + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Software Developer (JavaS...

Guru Careers: Software Engineer / Software Developer

£40-50K: Guru Careers: We are seeking an experienced Software Engineer / Softw...

Ashdown Group: Trainee Consultant - Surrey/ South West London

£22000 per annum + pension,bonus,career progression: Ashdown Group: An establi...

Ashdown Group: Trainee Consultant - Surrey / South West London

£22000 per annum + pension,bonus,career progression: Ashdown Group: An establi...

Day In a Page

Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
Welcome to the world of Megagames

Welcome to the world of Megagames

300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

Vince Cable exclusive interview

Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

It's time for my close-up

Meet the man who films great whites for a living
Increasing numbers of homeless people in America keep their mobile phones on the streets

Homeless people keep mobile phones

A homeless person with a smartphone is a common sight in the US. And that's creating a network where the 'hobo' community can share information - and fight stigma - like never before