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2 foreigners too many in county: Stewart

London: Former England captain Alec Stewart feels his country’s chances of international success were being damaged by the decision to allow counties to pick two overseas players each.

In recent seasons the 18 first-class counties have been allowed to field just one foreign star in their line-ups. But now English cricket has reverted to the system that was in place when wicket-keeper/batsman Stewart, 40, began his Surrey career 22 seasons ago.

“We’ve got two top-class overseas internationals at Surrey this year in (Pakistanis) Azhar Mahmood and Saqlain Mushtaq,” Stewart told The London Evening Standard. “But for the good of English cricket I would like only one per team, especially when you consider some counties already have several players who can earn a living here because they hold European passports but are not eligible for our England teams.”

Stewart said the situation had changed radically since he was a young player at The Oval. “When I started out, counties could have two overseas players. But we’re talking about greats, such as Malcolm Marshall and Gordon Greenidge at Hampshire and Viv Richards and Joel Garner with Somer- set.

“Now there are not 36 top-class star players available to the 18 Counties because of the amount of international cricket being played around the world all year round,” added Stewart, now in his testimonial season with Surrey.

“So people are simply signing players for the sake of signing them. What they should be saying is let’s get the best one available and then try to turn a promising English player into a very good player.” (AFP)

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