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Thursday, June 17, 1999 Published at 08:21 GMT 09:21 UK

No decision on Stewart

Alec Stewart: No decision has been made on his future

Chairman of selectors David Graveney has said England will have further discussions with Alec Stewart before making any decision about his future as captain.

BBC Cricket Commentator Christopher Martin-Jenkins and Mike Selvey discuss who should get the job
Stewart was all set to lead the side in this summer's Test series against New Zealand but reports in the national press had suggested the England captain would be sacked following the team's World Cup failure.

The reports also said vice-captain Nasser Hussain had emerged as favourite to succeed him for the four-Test series starting at Edgbaston on July 1.

But Graveney, who will make the decision with fellow selectors Graham Gooch and Mike Gatting, insisted that no conclusion had been drawn from initial discussions with Stewart.

He said: "We as selectors are obviously aware that the matter of the England captaincy is of great interest, but although we have discussed the matter on several occasions and we have spoken briefly with Alec about the current situation and his fitness, I can confirm no decision has been made".

"We hope to discuss the matter further with Alec over the next week and we would hope to be in a position to make some form of formal announcement as soon as possible after the World Cup."

Hosts England crashed out of the World Cup in the first round, with demoralising defeats against India and South Africa.

Stewart has been criticised for his leadership of the team and the News of the World says he has lost the confidence of the selectors.

The paper says he will be retained as both wicketkeeper and opener for the up-coming Test series against New Zealand, but will be relieved of his captaincy duties.

The Sunday Telegraph goes further, reporting that Hussain will be joined at the top of the national set-up by Duncan Fletcher, who will be appointed as successor to coach David Lloyd.

Looking to the future

But in an interview with the News of the World chairman of selectors David Graveney did not confirm Stewart's sacking.

But he said: "You can't pour all the blame for our early exit on one individual.

"If we change the England captain, it will be because we think that's the right decision for the future - not because we failed to qualify out of our (World Cup) group and it's all Alec's fault."

England finished fourth in group A and were pipped to the third qualifying position by Zimbabwe on run rate.

"There has to be collective responsibility for that failure. We all have to hold up our hands."

Stewart took over from Mike Atherton for last year's Test series against South Africa - and he achieved instant success, with a 2-1 victory,

Since then, though, the side have struggled, and a sixth successive Ashes defeat in Australia was followed by the World Cup debacle.

Botham backs Fletcher

Duncan Fletcher has emerged as favourite to replace Lloyd, who quit as coach to resume his commentating career.

[ image: Ian Botham believes Duncan Fletcher can do a job for England]
Ian Botham believes Duncan Fletcher can do a job for England
And the Zimbabwean has received a ringing endorsement from England's former talisman, Ian Botham.

The record-breaking ex-allrounder has been appointed in an advisory role by the England and Wales Cricket Board to help with the appointment.

"Fletcher's the guy I would go for," he said.

"Duncan would come in with no preconceived ideas of the England camp and with no baggage, make decisions, and he might upset a few people because he is that type of person.

"He is tough, he doesn't given an inch and he doesn't expect an inch. That's what it's all about. We need to get tougher in the ranks.

"There are a those who might not welcome Duncan Fletcher because he might give certain people a kick up the backside - and that's what's needed," he told BBC Radio 5 Live.

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