Stewart says allegations tainted his image


RAWALPINDI, Pakistan, AFP

Former England captain Alec Stewart on Thursday maintained he had never taken money from a bookmaker and claimed the match-fixing allegations levelled against him had tainted his image.

“These allegations have tainted my good reputation and have come as the greatest shock of my life,” Stewart told a packed press conference. Stewart is among nine foreign players named in an Indian match-fixing report published on Wednesday. “I have categorically denied all such allegations when I talked to England and Wales Cricket Board officials on Wednesday and I maintain that,” he said. The report quoted an Indian bookie Mukesh Gupta alias John as saying he gave 5,000 pounds to Stewart during England’s tour to India in 1992-93 for providing information relating to a cricket match. “I have gone through the two hardest days of my life,” he said. Stewart denied he would be recalled from the Pakistan tour. “No, I am not going back but I would like this issue not to affect team’s performance,” he said. “My reputation within the game is a good one, I have played over 100 times for England in both forms of the game and I have a strong character and will come out from this,” he said. “I am sure I will be remembered as a good cricketer not only in England but throughout the world,” he said. West Indian Brian Lara, Australian players Dean Jones and Mark Waugh, Pakistan’s Salim Malik, New Zealander Martin Crowe and South African Hansie Cronje are the other foreign players named in the report released after a Crime Branch of India (CBI) investigation. Stewart said he would cooperate with any inquiry. “If (former British police commissioner) Sir Paul Condon inquires into this matter I will be ready to cooperate,” he said. The England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) had said it would ask the International Cricket Council’s anti-corruption head Sir Paul Condon to inquire into the matter. “It’s my words against Gupta and I know I am telling the truth,” Stewart said.