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.

News
people'It can last and it's terrifying'
News
people Emma Watson addresses celebrity nude photo leak
Arts and Entertainment
tv
News
Katie Hopkins appearing on 'This Morning' after she purposefully put on 4 stone.
peopleKatie Hopkins breaks down in tears over weight gain challenge
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
fashionModel of the moment shoots for first time with catwalk veteran
Sport
Alexis Sanchez, Radamel Falcao, Diego Costa and Mario Balotelli
footballRadamel Falcao and Diego Costa head record £835m influx
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Madame Vastra and Jenny Flint kiss in Doctor Who episode 'Deep Breath'
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Olivia Colman topped the list of the 30 most influential females in broadcasting
tv
Life and Style
techIf those brochure kitchens look a little too perfect to be true, well, that’s probably because they are
Arts and Entertainment
Danish director Lars von Trier
tvEnglish-language series with 'huge' international cast set for 2016
Life and Style
tech
News
Kelly Brook
peopleA spokesperson said the support group was 'extremely disappointed'
Sport
Andy Murray celebrates a shot while playing Jo-Wilfried Tsonga
TennisWin sets up blockbuster US Open quarter-final against Djokovic
Arts and Entertainment
Hare’s a riddle: Kit Williams with the treasure linked to Masquerade
booksRiddling trilogy could net you $3m
Arts and Entertainment
Alex Kapranos of Franz Ferdinand performs live
music Pro-independence show to take place four days before vote
Caption competition
Caption competition
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

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

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

HR Generalist (standalone) - Tunbridge Wells - £32,000

£30000 - £32000 per annum: Ashdown Group: HR Generalist (standalone) - Tunbrid...

Year 3 Teacher Plymouth

£23500 - £40000 per annum: Randstad Education Plymouth: Year 3 Primary Teacher...

Junior Software Developer - Newcastle, Tyne & Wear - £30,000

£25000 - £30000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: Junior Web Developer / J...

Systems Administrator (SharePoint) - Central London - £36,500

£35000 - £36500 per annum: Ashdown Group: Systems Administrator (SharePoint) -...

Day In a Page

'I’ll tell you what I would not serve - lamb and potatoes': US ambassador hits out at stodgy British food served at diplomatic dinners

'I’ll tell you what I would not serve - lamb and potatoes'

US ambassador hits out at stodgy British food
Radio Times female powerlist: A 'revolution' in TV gender roles

A 'revolution' in TV gender roles

Inside the Radio Times female powerlist
Endgame: James Frey's literary treasure hunt

James Frey's literary treasure hunt

Riddling trilogy could net you $3m
Fitbit: Because the tingle feels so good

Fitbit: Because the tingle feels so good

What David Sedaris learnt about the world from his fitness tracker
Saudis risk new Muslim division with proposal to move Mohamed’s tomb

Saudis risk new Muslim division with proposal to move Mohamed’s tomb

Second-holiest site in Islam attracts millions of pilgrims each year
Alexander Fury: The designer names to look for at fashion week this season

The big names to look for this fashion week

This week, designers begin to show their spring 2015 collections in New York
Will Self: 'I like Orwell's writing as much as the next talented mediocrity'

'I like Orwell's writing as much as the next talented mediocrity'

Will Self takes aim at Orwell's rules for writing plain English
Meet Afghanistan's middle-class paint-ballers

Meet Afghanistan's middle-class paint-ballers

Toy guns proving a popular diversion in a country flooded with the real thing
Al Pacino wows Venice

Al Pacino wows Venice

Ham among the brilliance as actor premieres two films at festival
Neil Lawson Baker interview: ‘I’ve gained so much from art. It’s only right to give something back’.

Neil Lawson Baker interview

‘I’ve gained so much from art. It’s only right to give something back’.
The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

Wife of President Robert Mugabe appears to have her sights set on succeeding her husband
The model of a gadget launch: Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed

The model for a gadget launch

Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed
Alice Roberts: She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

Alice Roberts talks about her new book on evolution - and why her early TV work drew flak from (mostly male) colleagues
Get well soon, Joan Rivers - an inspiration, whether she likes it or not

Get well soon, Joan Rivers

She is awful. But she's also wonderful, not in spite of but because of the fact she's forever saying appalling things, argues Ellen E Jones
Doctor Who Into the Dalek review: A classic sci-fi adventure with all the spectacle of a blockbuster

A fresh take on an old foe

Doctor Who Into the Dalek more than compensated for last week's nonsensical offering