Stone­man surely se­cures Ashes spot

Gra­ham Hard­cas­tle sees Eng­land’s cur­rent Test opener smash a much­needed cen­tury for Sur­rey

The Cricket Paper - - LIVE -

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!”

PIC­TURE: Getty Im­ages

Raise the bat: Sur­rey's Mark Stone­man cel­e­brates his cen­tury at the Oval

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