Alec Stewart makes history


JULY 24. The parents of Kunal Vasa - Kishore and Anjana - are happy about their cricket memorabilia, which they won in auction at the Wembley Conference Centre, after the Wisden awards. The Vasas are British passport holders and live in Stanmore. Kishore, a jewellery designer, loves to watch cricket. He bid successfully for two bats (�2500), signed by the members of the India and England teams. Now these expensive bats will adorn the drawing room of his new home, located opposite to a building, where Roger Moore lived once.

Alec Stewart, who has represented England for a record 119th time in Test matches, receives a commemorative bat from England and Wales Cricket Board Chairman, Lord McLaurin.-N. SRIDHARAN

Kishore said he wanted to give a surprise to his son Kunal who watched India beat England at Lord's on June 29 as well as on July 13 when India won the NatWest Trophy final. "He's gone to America for a week. He will be in for a big surprise when he returns home. I bought this for two reasons. A certain amount of money will go to a Charity organisation. The organisers have also earmarked some money for the development of cricket. So by buying the bats, I have contributed to the society," said Kishore, who travels to India during Christmas holidays.

Kishore's son Kunal is a decent batsman and bowler. He plays for John Lyon School at Harrow and for Stanmore Cricket Club in the Middlesex league. He is being coached by Sam Ridgewell and Ali Fraser, brother of Angus Fraser. He has toured South Africa with his school team.

July 25. The England & Wales Cricket Board (ECB) honours Alec Stewart who has represented England for a record 119th time in Test matches. He is presented with a memento by the ECB Chairman Lord McLaurin whose term as the ECB Chairman will be over soon. It has been reported that former England captain Tony Lewis is keen to become Chairman of the ECB. Coming to Stewart, it must be said that the Surrey player deserves all accolades for keeping himself fit and also sustaining his enthusiasm for the game, at the highest level, for more than 10 years. Stewart has turned out to be a fine batsman, first as an opener and now as a middle order batsman.

Farat Jamal, Deputy General Manager, Taj Resorts and Hotels, shakes hands with Anil Kumble.-N. SRIDHARAN

He might have been lucky to retain his place in the England team. It was believed that James Foster, who won his spurs during the tour of India and New Zealand, would take the place of Stewart. But Foster fractured his forearm before the commencement of the 2002 season. His misfortune brought Stewart back into the team. Stewart had opted out of the tour of India last November. But he has proved his worth in the current series.

He will be 40 next April. He will be part of England's Ashes campaign for yet another time, but only time will tell whether he will be part of the England squad for the World Cup. If the England selectors, David Graveney and Geoff Miller, are to pick the team now, they will include Stewart in the squad because he has done so well in the NatWest series. "Well, he is among the top three wicketkeepers in England," said Nasser Hussain.

A new five-pound coin, minted at the Royal Mint, to commemorate the Queen's Jubilee Tour, was used for tossing during the opening Test match between India and England. The coin features on the obverse the Queen on horse-back in keeping with the design of crowns, struck previously during the Queen's coronation in 1953 and her silver jubilee in 1977. The inscription includes the words 'amor populi presidium reg', - 'the love of the people is the Queen's protection.' On the reverse the coin bears a new portrait of the Queen. The coin was designed by sculptor Ian Rank-Broadley.

England's fast bowler Darren Gough issues a statement saying that he has no 'rift' with Hussain's team. "Despite what has been written in some newspapers, I have not had a row with the England team management about my knee injury. I was not forced to play in the Lancashire v Yorkshire Roses match against my wishes. It is also absolute nonsense to suggest that my knee injury has been misdiagnosed or that I was rushed into the 'Roses' match ahead of schedule. I have had great support from the medical team since I was injured and it's just frustrating that I have not been able to get back to full fitness," Gough said.

July 26. Further bad news for James Foster. An announcement is made by the England team media manager Andrew Walpole in the NatWest Media Centre that Foster, the Essex wicketkeeper, has broken his left thumb playing against Glamorgan at Chelmsford and that he will be out of action for a period of six weeks. This summer, England has never played at full strength. It has missed out on players like Darren Gough, Andrew Caddick, Alex Tudor, Marcus Trescothick and James Foster.

Anju and Kishore pose with the cricket bats, signed by the Indian and English cricketers. They successfully bid for them in an auction.-N. SRIDHARAN

Foster injured his thumb, not while batting, but as a wicketkeeper, while diving full length to stop a ball from John Stephenson. "This is a huge blow for me," said Foster.

It is always a practice for the management of the hotel, where the teams stay, to throw a party for the players and the guests. Crowne Plaza, St. James Court, which is the property of Taj Resorts and Hotels, hosted a dinner for the Indian cricket team and Kapil Dev, who had won Wisden Indian Cricketer of the Century award. Almost every Indian cricketer, as also coach John Wright and physio Andrew Leipus, attends the party. While welcoming the team and Kapil Dev, Deputy General Manager Farat Jamal applauded the Indian team's performance in the NatWest Trophy and also congratulated Kapil Dev for winning the Wisden award.

July 27. The NatWest Media Centre has become a 'no-smoking' work place from the 2002 season. According to the Marylebone Cricket Club this move had the consent of the Cricket Writers Club. The MCC has revised the terms and conditions for the media, one of which is making the Media Centre a no-smoking building. The MCC's Secretary, Roger Knight, revealed that the Club has spent 40 million pounds in the last 15 years and upgraded the Grand Stand, Indoor School and the Media Centre. MCC's focus will be developing portable pitches at the nursery end and digging up the outfield and putting in place a new one before the next season.

A large crowd at Lord's, during the India-England Test match.-N. SRIDHARAN

Two new statues have also come up at Lord's. They are placed behind the Warner Stand. First the MCC erected Louis Leman's statue of W. G. Grace in the Coronation Garden to mark the Queen's Golden Jubilee. The second statue is of Antony Dufot's 'Bowler' to complement Gerald Laing's 'Batsman' placed behind the Compton stand.

July 28. npower which has replaced Cornhill as sponsor of the Test series in England announced that England can win up to a maximum of �1,24,000 should it win all the four Tests against India. England won �42,000 pounds for winning the two Tests against Sri Lanka at Edgbaston and Old Trafford.

An Australian club cricketer and a member of the Melbourne Cricket Club stuns Lord's by jumping the fence and accompanying Sachin Tendulkar soon after the batsman is bowled by Matthew Hoggard. The Indian team management is upset. "He could have been a terrorist," said manager Ranga Reddy. With security being given priority, the invasion of a spectator from the member's stand was regarded as breach of security. "It's an accident" said Indian captain, Sourav Ganguly. "An idiot was walking with a legend," said England's captain Nasser Hussain.

July 29. The Indian cricketers leave for New Road, Worcestershire for their first four-day match of the tour. There is already talk of Parthiv Patel replacing Ajay Ratra in the team, just to give a little more depth to India's batting. But did not Ratra score a century against the West Indies?