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Last Updated: Tuesday, 2 September, 2003, 10:37 GMT 11:37 UK
Taylor applauds Stewart reign
We interview Bob Taylor, who played 57 Tests as England's wicket-keeper, on the subject of Alec Stewart, who is about to retire having played 133.

Taylor's career began late because Alan Knott kept him out of the team for so long, but he played his last Test aged 43, three years older than Stewart will be.

In wicket-keeping terms, how good was Alec Stewart?

Alec Stewart
Stewart was always perfectly turned out for England

He would not have retained his place in the England team if he wasn't a good wicket-keeper. Alec would be the first to admit technically, Jack Russell was better.

But Alec's batting has stood him in good stead over the years and he is still very competent, particularly for his age.

He keeps himself tremendously fit and has been a model professional.

Alec is a professional and if you are enjoying your cricket and getting well paid for it, everybody wants to survive as long as they can.

But there are different sorts of role models. Jack Russell is the complete opposite. He's a ragtag and bob-tail man but that's the way he is, a bit of an eccentric.

Alec, on the other hand, does everything by the book and keeps himself looking completely immaculate on and off the field. He's quite a snazzy dresser really.

Jack Russell and Bob Taylor
Jack Russell and Bob Taylor on the 1994-95 Ashes tour

How important is it for England wicket-keepers to perform as batsmen?

I played most of my Test cricket with a certain Ian Botham. He was a genuine all-rounder who got the England team runs and wickets and won us matches.

That was one of the main reasons why I could get into the team because I only needed to contribute occasionally to the team's efforts with the bat.

But the game's changed now and every member of the team has to contribute with the bat, especially the wicket-keeper.

Alec often had to take on so many roles for England. Too many, perhaps?

Even for Alec, the role of captain, added to being wicket-keeper and batsman, was too much to take on.

It just takes it out of you when you have to take all that responsibility, day in and day out, dealing with the trials and tribulations of all the other players - the domestic life as well as their cricketing life.

Do you think he could have carried on for longer?

Well, he has played a lot more Tests than I did so probably he is mentally tired rather than physically tired. Maybe he just feels he has had enough.

I didn't start playing Test cricket until late and I finished late. I was 36 when I was making my second Test match appearance. It depends on the circumstance.

Who should England pick to replace Alec on the winter tours?

It's a temptation to just take one wicket-keeper this time around. I think they will go for Chris Read because he did so well in the one-day series, but saying that I hope James Foster gets another go somewhere along the line.

Links to more Eng v SA 2003 stories



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