EXC: Alec Stewart explains emotional name to step down as Surrey boss

Alec Stewart permits a glimpse inside his hard-earned status as the last word unflinching skilled when reflecting on his determination to stroll out of the gates that bear his identify on the Oval for the final time as Surrey’s director of cricket.

‘I can be seen as unemotional and maybe even a little bit cold but telling the players I was stepping down was tough,’ says a person synonymous with Surrey.

‘I care for those players and standing up in front of them wasn’t simple. But as soon as I’ve decided I’m fairly good at shifting on and I do know I’ll at all times be strolling by means of these gates whether or not it’s as a supporter or no matter comes subsequent.’

It is tough to envisage Surrey or the Oval with out the person recognized all through the cricketing fraternity as ‘the Gaffer’ – an acceptable nickname for one among England’s and Surrey’s best gamers and a extremely profitable boss of the most important county within the nation.

But after greater than a decade of feat since returning to the membership each he and his father Micky served with distinction as gamers Stewart junior is leaving the Oval for the one cause that might ever take him away. The good of his household.

Alec Stewart will step down from his role as Surrey's director of cricket later this year

Alec Stewart will step down from his position as Surrey’s director of cricket later this 12 months

Surrey's home ground the Oval boasts a gate bearing their club legend's name - though he was once refused entry after forgetting his pass!

Surrey’s house floor the Oval boasts a gate bearing their membership legend’s identify – although he was as soon as refused entry after forgetting his go!

Stewart’s spouse Lynn has had an extended and ongoing battle with most cancers, a battle the couple have at all times dealt with privately and with nice dignity, and the time has lastly come for Alec to fulfil a promise he made when he retired in 2003 after 23 years as a Surrey stalwart.

‘I said to Lynn when I stopped playing ‘I owe you time. You brought up the kids on your own.’ And it’s about time I gave her that,’ Stewart tells Mail Sport.

‘If I don’t do it now it will likely be one other 12 months, then one other as a result of I do love this job and actually take pleasure in it. But I can’t be egocentric. If I’m going to do one thing it needs to be at full capability and it goes again to one thing dad mentioned to me once I was a child.

‘Whatever you do make sure you do it to the best of your ability. Don’t play at it, work at it and provides it a purple scorching go. I’ve carried that by means of however I can’t carry on giving 100 per cent dedication to this job. I want to present that to Lynn.

‘I’ve had plenty of pretty messages with individuals saying ‘I hope Lynn’s okay.’ Fact is, she’s been battling this, on and off, since 2013 but when she was actually unhealthy now I’d be stepping down right away.

‘But, and touch wood everything is going to be fine, I’m going on the finish of the 12 months as a result of it’s a deliberate factor. It’s the suitable option to do it and it additionally offers the membership time to determine what they need to do subsequent.’

How Surrey will want that point as a result of Stewart is near irreplaceable. He was requested to return to the Oval by Richard Thompson and Richard Gould, now the duo on the prime of English cricket, with the well-known outdated membership at a very low ebb in 2013.

Surrey had been rocked by the tragic dying of one among their most promising younger gamers in Tom Maynard the 12 months earlier than and cultural points had performed a component in taking them to what’s unthinkable now, relegation later that summer season from the highest flight of the Championship.

During his 22-year stint on the books as a player at Surrey he played some 266 matches, scoring 15,016 runs

During his 22-year stint on the books as a participant at Surrey he performed some 266 matches, scoring 15,016 runs

On Friday, Surrey will begin their final season with the Gaffer at the helm against Lancashire

On Friday, Surrey will start their remaining season with the Gaffer on the helm towards Lancashire

Fast ahead 11 years and Surrey are a home behemoth because of the off-field work of Thompson and Gould and the on-field experience of Stewart. On Friday they’ll start Stewart’s final season on the helm towards Lancashire at Old Trafford as scorching favourites to turn out to be the primary county since Yorkshire within the 60s to win three consecutive Championship titles.

‘I did come in at a difficult time,’ mentioned Stewart. ‘The loss of Tom affected everyone associated with the club but if there was any good to come out of that tragedy, if that’s the suitable option to put it, it was that issues wanted to alter.

Stewart made 263 catches and 14 stumpings keeping for England in Test matches

Stewart made 263 catches and 14 stumpings preserving for England in Test matches

‘It wasn’t going to occur in a single day and that’s why it took me two years to get the squad the place I wished it to be. I’m huge on character and persona and we would have liked to get the suitable individuals in and across the enjoying set-up.

‘When the 2 Richards requested me to come back again I mentioned to them “you know how much I love this club. It goes back to when my dad was playing and it’s been my second home and second family. Let me do this my way. If I do it well pat me on the back but if I don’t then kick me out”.

‘And it has always been that way, including after they left and Steve Elworthy took over. The club put faith and trust in me and allowed me to do the job for 11 years and hopefully when I leave people will think it’s in higher form than once I got here in.’

There is little doubt Surrey are in higher form. But is English cricket? Stewart, who has completed as a lot for the sport as anybody, is completely certified to touch upon the altering panorama which sees franchises difficult the primacy of worldwide and county cricket.

‘International cricket has to be the most important thing and that means, for Test cricket, you have to have a strong domestic red-ball competition,’ mentioned Stewart. ‘We have that and I still think players franchises want to sign for big money have still made their name in international cricket first.

‘But I can’t sit again and say all the things is okay. That can be incorrect and careless. We have an obligation to make sure our home sport remains to be robust and wholesome and I’m unsure anybody has all of the solutions. The Hundred will decide lots. How are they going to usher in non-public funding? How a lot cash will probably be raised? And that cash has to filter right down to the home sport. Otherwise it should all fall down in 10 years.’

Surrey have become a domestic behemoth in part down to Stewarts work behind the scenes

Surrey have turn out to be a home behemoth partly right down to Stewarts work behind the scenes

The Stewart Surrey dynasty could be completed by a third successive County Championship crown - emulating the side of his father in the 50s

The Stewart Surrey dynasty could possibly be accomplished by a 3rd successive County Championship crown – emulating the aspect of his father within the 50s

There isn’t any query Stewart’s Surrey are the mannequin instance for all within the sport to comply with. But their sheer dimension and wealth can result in negativity and jealousy from others much less lucky. ‘It’s a straightforward line to name us “moneybags”,’ countered Stewart.

‘I get it because we are deemed to be the wealthiest club and we like that. There’s additionally a number of jealousy of us which we additionally like. But I desire a return on each pound I’ve spent on this job. I deal with it like my very own cash and other people will say I’m tight however you’ll be able to’t waste cash or throw it at issues. I’ve a accountability for all the things I spend and there’s additionally the wage cap to stick to and we do adhere to it. We don’t even get near it.’

The query now could be whether or not a membership that, underneath Stewart has mixed profitable with producing England gamers and recruiting properly – Dan Lawrence is the most recent Oval signing made as a result of, Stewart says, ‘I’ve at all times admired Alex Ferguson and he mentioned you must strengthen after you’ve been profitable as a result of you must re-generate’ – can emulate the fabled Surrey aspect of his father within the 50s and win three titles in a row.

Stewart sighs. ‘It’s the headline on the minute,’ he mentioned. ‘Can Surrey win three in a row. But we’re not taking a look at it that approach. If our processes are good the result will take care of itself. Of course we need to win it once more however there are such a lot of unknowns. What I’ll say is that if we enhance on what we did final 12 months it should take a great aspect to complete forward of us.’

And that title would full the Stewart Surrey dynasty for a person whose solely actual regrets in a lifetime of cricketing achievement aren’t profitable the Ashes as a participant and never having the ability, for household causes, to totally discover the potential of ever changing into England coach.

But Stewart, who turns 61 on Monday, desires to make one factor clear. He is just not retiring. ‘I couldn’t simply do nothing plus Lynn would in a short time get uninterested in me so I need to keep in and across the sport,’ he mentioned.

Dan Lawrence is the latest signing at Surrey as part of Stewart's plan to 're-generate' from a victorious position

Dan Lawrence is the most recent signing at Surrey as a part of Stewart’s plan to ‘re-generate’ from a victorious place 

Former England wicketkeeper Stewart won 133 Test caps and scored 8,463 runs in the process

Former England wicketkeeper Stewart received 133 Test caps and scored 8,463 runs within the course of

‘Surrey asked me if there was a role they could create for me but I said ‘get my replacement first and if they have a gap they want filling and it works for me then I’ll take a look at it.’ But I don’t need them to simply give me a job as a result of I performed a very long time and was then on this position a very long time. That might hinder the brand new individual coming in.

‘I am biased but it doesn’t want ripping up and re-doing right here. But you continue to need the brand new individual to come back in, observe after which make any delicate modifications they really feel are proper. If they do effectively and take it to a different degree I’ll be the primary to say “that’s brilliant”.’

Until then Stewart will carry on arriving on the Oval at 6am day-after-day – ‘it’s to not present individuals I do an extended day, it’s extra to beat the site visitors,’ he insists – earlier than deciding what comes subsequent. But he’ll at all times be a part of the Surrey household.

‘They did refuse me entry at the Alec Stewart Gates once, and quite right too because I didn’t have my go,’ he smiled. ‘But I’ll be again whether or not I’ll be sitting with the boys within the Peter May Stand or within the pavilion. I’m by no means going to depart Surrey. They imply all the things to me.’