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England v West Indies

‘We just didn’t know any different’ — When on-duty Stewart missed the birth of his son

by Wisden Staff 2 minute read

Former England captain Alec Stewart has recalled how he couldn’t make it in time to be at the birth of his son in 1993 while on England duty, reaching five minutes late, and returning to the team soon after instead of staying back.

Joe Root, England’s regular Test captain, is set to miss at least the first Test of the upcoming West Indies series to be with his wife for the birth of his second child; Stewart said that back in his day, “you didn’t think about missing a game.”

“We had lost a high-scoring one-dayer to Australia at Edgbaston in 1993,” Stewart told BBC. “I was spewing when we came off the field, and literally three minutes later the phone in the dressing room rang. The dressing room attendant said it was for me, and the words I uttered were not what you’d want to use in front of your mum. Anyway, it was my mum.

“She said, ‘Lynn has been in labour for four hours, if you want to try to get here’. I left Edgbaston pretty much straight away, and got there five minutes after Andrew arrived into the world.”

Two days later, Stewart returned to feature in the next one-dayer against Australia at Lord’s, scoring 74 in England’s 19-run loss.

In Root’s case, hurrying back into the fold is not an option, given the unique circumstances the game is in; the 29-year-old will have to undergo a seven-day isolation period at home under the health protocol rules of the bio-secure series, amid the coronavirus epidemic.

Stewart said that he would have put his family first like Root has if he could do it again.

“Back then, you didn’t think about missing a game,” Stewart said. “If I had my time again I’d be doing exactly what Joe Root has done. We just didn’t know any different. Lynn and I have been married since 1991. In that time, we’ve only had one summer holiday.

“I’ve made a conscious decision not to tour in the winter for other work. I’ve had lots of offers, and I’ve turned them down. It’s just not something that I’ll contemplate doing.”

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