Alastair Cook tips Stoneman to shine in Ashes tour

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By Adam Ellis

Alastair Cook has suggested incumbent opening partner Mark Stoneman can provide a different challenge to the Australian bowlers that should see the Surrey batsman be a success in this winter’s Ashes series.

Stoneman called it ‘a step into the unknown’ when he made his Test debut against the West Indies at Edgbaston last month, and with three Tests to his name Cook has backed the man they call ‘Rocky’ to star in Australia on the evidence he has seen thus far.

“I like Mark. I really like Mark,” said Cook, speaking to the Telegraph.

“I think Rocky’s slightly different. He’s a bit older, he’s seen a lot more. And the big move for him was coming down to Surrey. Four years of a thousand runs or more at Durham. Coming down to Surrey on a big money move – if that makes sense in cricket – straight away, he delivered. He’s ready. I think he’s going to be good.”

Stoneman became Cook’s twelfth opening partner this summer and averaged 30.00 in the series against the West Indies. The likes of Nick Compton, Sam Robson, Jonathan Trott, and Adam Lyth have come and gone, and England’s leading runs scorer in Tests expects the passing of the buck to stop with Stoneman.

“I think out of all of them – and I don’t mean this disrespectfully to the guys who’ve played – Mark seems to have a lot of good stuff. He seems to have fewer weaknesses, which in international cricket get exploited very quickly now; quicker than it was when I started.

“The level of analysis. The feedback is so quick they can hone in on a weakness probably within one or two innings. And social media is so intense everything’s out there right away.”

England will stake their claim to retain the urn when the first Test at the Gabba gets underway in Brisbane in 63 days’ time.

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