Stoneman aims to make most of Ashes chance as injuries hit England

England's Mark Stoneman: Determined to take Ashes chance.
England's Mark Stoneman: Determined to take Ashes chance.
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Steven Finn and Moeen Ali will both miss England’s first Ashes warm-up match after injury scares.

Pace bowler Finn hurt his left knee when, after bowling in the middle in practice at Richardson Park, hit himself while batting in the nets.

It’s one of the pinnacles of the sport to get on an Ashes tour. It’s massive – couldn’t be any bigger, really.

England’s Mark Stoneman

All-rounder Moeen is troubled by soreness in his left side.

Both will have scans today and are no longer in contention for the two-day fixture against a Western Australia XI starting tomorrow at the WACA.

One man who will be in the thick of the action is Mark Stoneman, out to cement his position as Alastair Cook’s latest opening partner after making a largely favourable impression in three Tests against West Indies over the summer.

The 30-year-old said: “It’s one of the pinnacles of the sport to get on an Ashes tour. It’s massive – couldn’t be any bigger, really.

“The first three Tests against West Indies were great. I don’t think I’ve ever had as much fun playing cricket.

“Obviously, the Ashes is just something completely different and totally new (for me)... the buzz around it and the build-up is on another level.”

The left-hander is delighted his belated promotion has coincided with the biggest series of all.

“The tour only comes round every four years, and to get the timing right to get my opportunity now is fantastic – and I want to make the most of it,” he said.

“It’s up there with the toughest challenges in the world, against the new ball in Australia, with the quick bowlers they’ve had through their history.

“It’ll be something, I hope, I can stand up to.”

Stoneman met his Australian wife, Serene, on one of his early winters Down Under to play Grade cricket in Sydney, and is confident he can count on her unqualified support despite the native allegiance.

“The wife is definitely backing me and England,” he said. “The in-laws want to see me do well, (but) I’m sure they’ll be keen for Australia to do well, too.”

He will be doing so with a sense of responsibility on and off the pitch.

Indirectly referencing the absence of Ben Stokes – left at home in England to discover whether he will be charged with causing actual bodily harm after a late-night altercation outside a Bristol nightclub – Stoneman spelled out his intentions.

“I’ll have a fantastic sense of pride, and hope we do justice to ourselves on the pitch and also as people off the field as well – conduct ourselves in a manner that everyone back home can be proud of,” he said.

“Obviously, recent events have cast a bit of a shadow on that, but it’s up to us to... represent ourselves in a good fashion.”

In the middle, he knows from past experience there will be moments of provocation from England’s hosts – but he does not appear too worried.

“I think Aussies in general, if they get an Englishman in front of them, they’re keen to have a bit of a chirp,” he said. “It should be good fun – I’m quite looking forward to it, see what the sledgers have got for us.”

Australia limited-overs seamer Nathan Coulter-Nile will captain a second-string WA XI against England this weekend.

In two further warm-up matches, in Adelaide and Townsville, England will face a crop of rising stars but just wicketkeeper Tim Paine and seamer Gurinder Sandhu with international experience in a 12-man Cricket Australia XI squad.

Sussex coach Jon Lewis will work with England Lions this winter, replacing Chris Silverwood.

The former Yorkshire player Silverwood has been named as the senior side’s new fast bowling coach, leaving a vacancy with the Lions squad which travels to Australia later this month.

Lewis, assistant head coach at Hove, will assume the role of overseeing the likes of Mark Wood, George Garton and Tom Helm in a travelling group which effectively doubles as a shadow for Trevor Bayliss’s Ashes party.

The 42-year-old, who played one Test and 13 ODIs for his country, will stay in Australia to join the backroom staff at Big Bash franchise Perth Scorchers before reconnecting with the Lions during their West Indies tour in January.

“I am extremely excited about the prospect of coaching the Lion,” he said. “I will be working with two world-class head coaches in Andy Flower and Justin Langer, and assisting with the coaching of some of the most talented cricketers in the world.”

Lions head coach Flower added: “We are delighted to have an outstanding replacement in Jon Lewis – and we are very grateful to Keith Greenfield and Rob Andrew at Sussex for being so flexible in allowing Jon to join us now.”