ALEC STEWART believes England are reaping the rewards of their best one-day side in nearly 20 years as they go in search of a 5-0 series whitewash over Australia.
Andrew Strauss’s men will be looking to build on their unassailable 3-0 lead over their arch-rivals when they lock horns for the fourth one-day international at The Oval today.
And after landing their first ever international trophy, the World Twenty20 in West Indies last month, former captain Stewart believes the current crop are poised to etch their name in folklore.
“I believe this is the best one-day side we’ve had for a long time,” the Surrey wicketkeeper/batting legend told City.A.M. “The best side I played in was the 1992 side which lost the World Cup final against Pakistan, and since then we’ve been left searching for the right individuals.
“But now we’ve created a squad with quality in all bases, whether it be an attacking opening batsman in Craig Kieswetter, a huge middle-order talent in Eoin Morgan, and a controlled, varied bowling attack.
“They’ve set the benchmark now. We used to look to learn from the Aussies, now I think it’s roles reversed, I think other countries are looking at England saying ‘what are they doing?’ in one-day cricket and trying to emulate us.”
Morgan, in particular, is quickly establishing himself as one of the world’s top limited-overs batsmen, and Stewart believes it’s only a matter of time before he makes his name at Test level – just in time for this winter’s Ashes series in Australia.
“Morgan is a special talent,” Stewart went on. “We’ve already seen in both 20- and 50-over cricket that he’s got a very cool head on very young shoulders. If you are an intelligent cricketer you play all forms of the game and Morgan is made of the right stuff. It’s a question of when he gets in the side, not if.”
Like the rest of us, Chelsea fan Stewart was left cringing at the screen on Sunday as Frank Lampard’s disallowed goal contributed to England’s World Cup exit against Germans.
The incident sparked fresh calls for football to introduce goal-line technology, and having seen how similar measures have revamped cricket over the last decade, Stewart is at a loss to explain why the debate is still raging on.
“All the other sports are embracing technology like cricket, tennis and rugby, so why not football?” he questioned. “It’s a line decision, it’s not an interpretation of the law.
“Sepp Blatter can say what he wants but everyone – players, managers and fans – just wants the right decision.
“To me it’s not even a discussion point, it should come in straight away and should have done along time ago.”
Alec Stewart is cricket ambassador for Sportingbet.com – English Cricket’s best bet. Get to the heart of English Cricket this summer with in:play betting at www.sportingbet.com/englishcricket