Stoneman surely secures Ashes spot
Graham Hardcastle sees England’s current Test opener smash a muchneeded century for Surrey
Deep down, Mark Stoneman must feel he is assured of his seat on the plane to Australia this winter. Not that he will admit it, however.
The former Durham opener scored a superb 131 from 171 balls on the opening day of this clash with a Yorkshire side who are flirting dangerously with the relegation zone.
Stoneman drove and cut particularly well as he took advantage of a below par attack to set Surrey on their way to a massive first-innings total, which also included centuries for Kumar Sangakkara and another Ashes contender Ben Foakes, as well as 75 for fellow opener Rory Burns.
The left-handers shared 178 either side of lunch for the first wicket, with Stoneman posting his fourth Championship century of the season to go with scores of 52 and 40 not out in three Tests against the West Indies.
Without going big in the Test series, the 30-year-old ex-Durham man did enough to ensure his place in the tour party and, most likely, his place in the first Test team for Brisbane on November 23 alongside Alastair Cook.
“I’ve just got to try to score as many runs as I can for Surrey in these closing weeks of the season, and hopefully things will go my way when selection comes around,” he said.
“I don’t really want to say (if he feels assured of his spot). It’s the kind of thing you don’t really want to jinx yourself with. I’ll just take it one step at a time.
“Playing in those Tests was an unbelievable experience, amazing. It’s what I’ve dreamed of doing all my career, and it’s what you play the game for.
“To get a taste of it was fantastic. It leaves you always wanting more.
“I came back here feeling confident in my game.
“The way I practised before the game, it couldn’t have gone any better. I had some good practice leading up to the Lord’s Test as well.
“My general game’s felt in good order.”
For now, Stoneman will concentrate on Surrey and trying to help them finish the season on a high.
“It’s been class to get back and listen to all the banter,” he added.
“The lads made sure I kept my feet on the ground (after England). There was a fair bit of stick flying around for me getting a new pair of trainers or two!”
Raise the bat: Surrey's Mark Stoneman celebrates his century at the Oval