Stewart hopeful for Oval Test

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The Independent Online
Cricket

Alec Stewart, the England vice-captain who broke his right index finger for the third time in nine months during the third Test at Edgbaston, is still waiting for the all-clear to start playing again.

Stewart has not given up hope of being fit for next week's decider against the West Indies at The Oval but, at best, he will only have one innings before the selectors meet this weekend to pick their squad.

Stewart, who hopes to play in a Surrey second XI limited-overs match tomorrow, said: "I've had another X-ray on the finger today and will get the results tomorrow. I want to play on Friday but first I need to know the break is healed and can withstand another knock."

Devon Malcolm, who destroyed South Africa 12 months ago with 9 for 57 at The Oval, could be in line for an England recall.

The 32-year-old Derbyshire paceman has not figured against West Indies this summer since bowling badly in the first Test at Headingley, but a quick and bouncy pitch at The Oval tomorrow week could be enough to persuade Ray Illingworth to bring him back.

"Devon will be under consideration," the chairman of selectors confirmed. "We'll have him watched later this week."

Mike Gatting, the former England captain, will lead Championship-chasing Middlesex in their Britannic Assurance match against Kent at Lord's today, despite a broken left index finger.

The injury, originally sustained three weeks ago, was aggravated when he was hit on the finger by a delivery from Neil Killeen during the match against Durham.

Lancashire, who are third in the table, could be without the England captain, Mike Atherton, and Neil Fairbrother for today's Roses clash at Old Trafford.

Atherton is likely to take the offer of a rest after the gruelling fifth Test at Trent Bridge, although he has recovered from a bruised hand, while Fairbrother is suffering from a hamstring twinge.

Warwickshire, in third place, have the England opener Nick Knight back against Nottinghamshire at Trent Bridge today. The left-hander returns to the ground only four days after his escape from serious injury in the Test against the West Indies.

The Test and County Board are to wait for Yorkshire's inquiry into Tuesday's crowd trouble at Headingley before deciding whether to take further action. 's governing body are concerned at the fighting which broke out at Yorkshire's NatWest Trophy semi-final defeat against Northamptonshire. Police arrested 15 people.

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