A determined England will go all-out to redeem lost prestige and
salvage some honour when they meet Sri Lanka in a one-off Test match
and two one-day internationals during a brief two-week tour. England
captain, Alec Stewart said Sunday that pride and the urgency to wipe
away painful memories of India's 3-0 whitewash in the recent Test
series would be the motivating force behind his team's desire to do
"The lads are fully aware that we have to win. Pride and everything
else goes with it," said Stewart, who takes over the reins of the
captaincy from Graham Gooch for the Sri Lankan tour from March 10 to
20. Gooch, who briefly relinquished the helm to Stewart during the
second test against India due to illness, returned straight home from
India, while the rest of the squad arrived in Colombo late Saturday.
The 29-year-old Stewart, making his debut tour of Sri Lanka, said
it would not be hard for the team to be motivated. "It is not going
to be a big problem and a challenge to raise ourselves. I fancy our
chances here." Stewart, who will be leading England for the second
time in a Test, added that he did not feel the pressure of captaincy.
"I don't feel I'm under trial. I wiPll captain the side in my own
style, but obviouly I'm not going to change anything too much. I have
learnt a lot from Graham and have agreed with him all the way."
Not only will Stewart be under the watchful eyes of England's
officials - who have admitted that the captaincy for this summer's
home Ashes series against Australia is under consideration - but also
many others in the squad. England manager Keith Fletcher said: "Alec
is one of the obvious contenders for the captaincy. But there are
other people as well like Mike Gatting or Martyn Moxon." Fletcher was
pleased with the progress of players like pacemen Chris Lewis and Paul
Jarvis and batsman Graeme Hick in India.
"These are a few of the good things that happenned on tour...But I
was disappointed with the way our spinners John Emburey and Phil
Tufnell played. "They can bowl a lot better, but then again the
Indian batsmen play spin far better than we did."
Fletcher also paid tribute to India. "They played better cricket
than us. The conditions favoured them, but that is no excuse.
Everytime we went out there, we put in 100 per cent effort. But that
100 per cent was just not good enough. "As for our batsmen, I think
we have come on a lot over the last ten weeks and they have developed
the technique to play spin," added Fletcher, who captained the England
team in 1982, during Sri Lanka's inaugural Test match.
On that occasion too, England came after losing a six Test series
to India. Spirits were however revived when England went on to defeat
Sri Lanka. Meanwhile Sri Lankan officials stressed once again their
unhappiness over England's reluctance to play more than a solitary
"After playing 11 years of Test cricket, England still have not
given us a full series. I hope this will change in the near future,"
said Neil Perera, secretary of the Board of Control for Cricket in Sri
Lanka. Perera brushed aside the view that financial constraints
hampered England granting the island nation more than one Test at a
"We have always given financial guarantees to the England Test and
County Cricket Board. Irrespective of whether we get good gates or
not, England would have been assured of their money," said Perera.
Both one day internationals (March 10 and 20) and the Test match
(March 13-18) will be sponsored by private corporations.