Stewart ruled out for The Oval

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The Independent Online
Alec Stewart, the England vice-captain, has ruled himself out of the sixth Cornhill Test against the West Indies at The Oval, starting next Thursday. Stewart's right index finger, broken twice last winter and again in the third Test this summer, has still not healed sufficiently to risk it in the series decider on his home ground.

"It's frustrating," the Surrey captain said. "It's improved considerably - in fact, it is the best it's been for a long time. But the sixth Test is such a big game and you have to be able to know you can go in there and complete the job, and I can't afford to take the risk.

"It's got to be strong enough to take another knock, which we don't feel at the moment it is. If I could guarantee that I would not get hit on the finger again, I would have been playing weeks ago.

"I have had nets on the bowling machine, when you know the ball is not going to hit you on the finger, and there was no problem. But it hasn't healed sufficiently to be able to say it is 100 per cent.

"I don't know when I will be able to play for Surrey. It probably needs another couple of weeks to make sure and the winter tour is at the back of my mind. I want to get it right for the trip to South Africa. But it's not a question of me saving it for the winter. Once it is right I'll play - but it won't be ready for a while longer yet."