Stone­man is the rock at the top for Eng­land

Strauss hails opener for suc­cess

The Cricket Paper - - FRONT PAGE - By Chris Stocks

AN­DREW Strauss, Eng­land’s di­rec­tor of cricket, has backed Mark Stone­man to thrive in Aus­tralia dur­ing this win­ter’s Ashes se­ries .

The Sur­rey opener is for­mer cap­tain Alas­tair Cook’s 12th part­ner at the top of the or­der since Strauss re­tired at the end of the 2012 sum­mer.

Stone­man has one half-cen­tury from three Tests so far hav­ing made his de­but in the se­ries against West Indies at Edg­bas­ton last month and re­turned to Sur­rey with a cen­tury against York­shire at the Oval last week.

But Strauss be­lieves he has the po­ten­tial to solve Eng­land’s lon­grun­ning open­ing is­sue and, af­ter speak­ing to coach Trevor Bayliss, has backed the 30-year-old to prove it in Aus­tralia.

“I think he has a sim­ple, nat­u­ral way he bats on the front and back foot,” said Strauss. “On the sur­face that looks like a cou­ple of good weapons he has in his ar­moury.

“Trevor has talked about how he comes across as a tough, street­wise crick­eter and he will have ben­e­fit­ted from all those years of county cricket and get­ting to know him­self.

“He has made a pos­i­tive im­pres­sion. I am a lit­tle bit loathe to say he is go­ing to have a long Eng­land ca­reer be­cause we have seen ex­am­ples of peo­ple fall­ing away. He has a great op­por­tu­nity and it is great to see him go­ing back to Sur­rey and scor­ing runs. He is in good form and looks like he can play at that level now.”

Strauss also be­lieves Cook can have a pro­duc­tive win­ter af­ter step­ping away from the Test cap­taincy. The Es­sex opener scored 766 runs when he was part­nered by Strauss on Eng­land’s suc­cess­ful 2010-11 Ashes tour and his for­mer cap­tain thinks he could cause Aus­tralia more dam­age this win­ter.

“I think he has re­acted ex­cep­tion­ally well to step­ping away from the cap­taincy,” said Strauss.

“For some peo­ple that can im­part thoughts of re­tire­ment. I have not seen any signs of that.

“Alas­tair has bat­tled away re­ally well in tough con­di­tions this sum­mer.

“He will feed off his pre­vi­ous ex­pe­ri­ences in Aus­tralia this win­ter and will go there in a pos­i­tive frame of mind.”

Eng­land will name their 16-man squad for Aus­tralia next week, with Tom West­ley and Dawid Malan ex­pected to be in it. Alex Hales, though, is set to miss out de­spite a pos­i­tive sum­mer for Not­ting­hamshire.

Toby Roland-Jones is also a doubt af­ter pick­ing up a side strain play­ing for Mid­dle­sex last week, al­though Eng­land are still likely to name him in their party.

PIC­TURE: Getty Im­ages

Made of Stone: Mark Stone­man has looked solid if un­spec­tac­u­lar at the top of the or­der for Eng­land

Con­fi­dent: An­drew Strauss

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