June 22, 2001

Why I had to to concede a cricket match

Alec Stewart

In his latest diary entry for CricInfo, England captain Alec Stewart reflects on a difficult period on the field in the NatWest Triangular Series, and the fresh exchanges with Sir Paul Condon behind the scenes.

What a quiet week that was! After all the disappointment regarding England's performance in the NatWest Series and then the much-publicised exchanges through the press concerning Sir Paul Condon, I then had to go down as the first captain in international cricket history to concede the NatWest match at Headingley.

I am afraid that it had to be done - purely on the grounds of player and umpire safety. We spoke during and after the Edgbaston game when similar problems arose and everyone agreed that player and umpire safety was paramount. Unfortunately, those scenes were repeated. We were not winning the game and for the sake of the players and umpires it was the only decision I felt I could take.

Hopefully it will mean that we do not see scenes like that again and the authorities, whether in this country or other countries, and probably the ICC, will now take very, very strong measures to prevent such things happening again.

My concern is player safety and Steve Waugh made comments on the subject when he was here for the World Cup a couple of years ago, and made similar comments at the start of this tournament. I spoke with him during this series and we asked the question whether enough was being done for players with respect to safety. Having seen what happened to the poor steward who was taken to hospital at Headingley, I would suggest that player safety cannot be guaranteed.

Although some people have been saying that conceding the game sent out the wrong signals with regard to future incidents, I just hope that the authorities take strong enough measures to ensure that there are not similar incidents in the future. I do not think that captains should have to concede games. Perhaps a team or their fans should be penalised for such unacceptable behaviour. I have said before that in Australia they slap a considerable fine on anyone going on to the field of play. Perhaps that sort of measure should be taken in England.

It might be said that it was a brave decision to concede the match, but I think it was a sad decision for English cricket. However, it was a decision that I felt was right for the long term good of the game.