Cricket: England go for student Foster

by PAUL NEWMAN, Daily Mail

England have identified a 21-year-old university student as the man to replace Alec Stewart. James Foster, who keeps wicket for Essex and Durham University, is almost certain to be the most significant name among the 25-man one-day squad which will be named in the next two weeks to prepare for the 2003 World Cup.

The need to identify World Cup prospects was the main conclusion to emerge from the England Cricket Board's inquest on Saturday into the dismal one-day form which has seen England lose their last 11 matches.

That will mean Foster, who scored his maiden first-class century for his university against Worcestershire last week, earning a place in the squad to tour Zimbabwe in October.

He should, eventually, replace Stewart, 38, in the senior side.

The one drawback to the plan is that Foster, who averaged more than 50 with the bat in his four Championship games for Essex last season, is in the middle of a sports science degree.

It is a dilemma which first faced Foster when he was picked for the England A tour to West Indies last winter.

He contemplated abandoning his degree but instead decided to take time off.

This time the incentive to pick up the gauntlets full-time could prove irresistible.

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