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Root urges Stoneman to make partnership with Cook work

by 11/08/2017 19:06:00 0 comments 1 Views
  • Mark Stoneman is expected to become the 12th player to partner Alastair Cook 
  • Joe Root believes Stoneman can be England's answer to an ongoing problem 
  • He is one of the two new faces to be named in the Test to face the West Indies 
  • Stoneman replaces Keaton Jennings, who failed to take his opportunity 

By Mike Keegan For The Daily Mail

Published: 17:12 EDT, 11 August 2017 | Updated: 19:06 EDT, 11 August 2017

Joe Root admits he is baffled by England's struggles to find an opening partner for Alastair Cook - and has challenged Mark Stoneman to make the slot his own ahead of the Ashes.

The Surrey batsman is expected to become the 12th player to partner Cook at the top of the order when the Test series against West Indies begins at Edgbaston on Thursday.

And captain Root believes Stoneman can be England's answer to what has been a problem question, with the winter trip Down Under rapidly approaching.

Mark Stoneman is expected to become the 12th player to partner Alastair Cook for England
Mark Stoneman is expected to become the 12th player to partner Alastair Cook for England

Mark Stoneman is expected to become the 12th player to partner Alastair Cook for England

'It's a strange one,' he said. 'You look at the talent and the guys who have played and you think they have every chance of being able to do it, but unfortunately it's not been the case.

'A lot of great openers' strengths is when they do get in they make big, big scores. Unfortunately on a few occasions guys haven't quite managed to do that. It's an opportunity for Mark to come in and do just that.'

Stoneman, 30, is one of two new faces named in the squad for the opening Test, along with 20–year-old leg-spinner Mason Crane.

Some have taken the view that Crane has been selected so he can gain experience of the England environment, and is unlikely to play. Root, however, says that is not the case.

England captain Joe Root has urged Stoneman to do his best to make the partnership work
England captain Joe Root has urged Stoneman to do his best to make the partnership work

England captain Joe Root has urged Stoneman to do his best to make the partnership work

'Yes – of course,' he said when asked if Crane could make the XI. 'He's in the squad. We wanted to give him an opportunity to see what he can do for the team and see how he fared in Test cricket. It's a great opportunity to get him involved and for him to show everyone in the squad what's he's capable of doing.'

Root, 26, took over the captaincy ahead of the 3-1 victory over South Africa and much has been made of his influence in team selection. However, the Yorkshireman played that down.

'I don't think I do get the final say,' he said. 'I give my input as everyone else does and I'm generally happy with the squads I have been given.'

Issues remain elsewhere in England's top order with both Tom Westley and Dawid Malan unable to nail down their places during the recent series. Root, however, is not worried about an unresolved situation so close to the Ashes.

'You wouldn't say necessarily it's a huge concern,' he said. 'I look at it as opportunity for guys to take their chances and really put their names forward for a big series. It should excite people. 

'You look at the winter ahead and the exciting challenges that poses - it's a great time to come in make big runs and say "I am ready for this Ashes series" and I want to be a part of a side that can go over there and do something special.'

Stoneman has been given his chance after Keaton Jennings failed to take his opportunity
Stoneman has been given his chance after Keaton Jennings failed to take his opportunity

Stoneman has been given his chance after Keaton Jennings failed to take his opportunity

Stoneman replaces Keaton Jennings, who failed to seize the opportunity in the recent series with South Africa, averaging just 15.87 across four Tests. Root is yet to speak to the Durham man but aims to do so in the near future. 'It's only around 24 hours after they have had some difficult news,' he explained of those who had not made the squad. 

'It's important they get their own space, deal with it and how they want to deal with it and I'll maybe be in contact in the next few days.' Root added that it was clear what Jennings needs to do to win back his place. 

'It's pretty obvious he wants go back into county cricket and score a huge amount of runs and put pressure back on that way,' he said. 'It's important he continues to be the impressive professional he has been in an England squad.' 

Crane's arrival is at the expense of Liam Dawson but may be viewed as another indication that Adil Rashid's career as an England Test player is over. Root denied that was the case.

'It's never a 'that's it' moment,' he said. 'For him, it's about coming back into Championship cricket when he gets the chance and taking a lot of wickets, putting some good performances in and pushing hard.'

Joe Root is an Ambassador for health and life insurer Vitality, inspiring healthy and active lifestyles www.vitality.co.uk

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