International opportunities have been few lately for Olly Stone – injuries have seen to that – so he is keen to grab the next one that comes along, hopefully for him, in next month’s ODI series against South Africa.
It has been more than two years since Stone played the last of his four ODIs, all of them on England’s tour of Sri Lanka in October 2018. Since then, his only other international appearance was an encouraging Test debut against Ireland in 2019, where he claimed three wickets.
Two stress fractures in his back, a side strain and a hamstring problem have hampered his progress but he is back in contention for the one-day leg of England’s South Africa tour after an encouraging spell in the opening warm-up between Team Morgan and Team Buttler. Quick Stone produced six overs at good pace for Buttler’s winning team and dismissed Tom Curran, caught and bowled, to break up a fighting 79-run partnership with Chris Woakes.
Having secured his place in the touring party on the back of a successful Vitality Blast campaign, Stone is not part of England’s squad for the three T20Is against South Africa, which start at Newlands on Friday ahead of the ODI series. But he aims to show more of what he is capable of in two intra-squad T20s to be played in Paarl on Monday.
“I’d never just wait for an opportunity. I want to go out there and keep trying to bash that door down and go out there to impress,” he told the Press Association. “I go out there and try to give my all, showcase what I can do and if the captain and coach like the look of it, that’s great. If not I’ll keep working hard to get my opportunity.
“I think the competitive nature in us all came out in that first warm-up. You all want to impress and there was a bit of banter flying around out there. It was a good laugh but it was taken seriously and with a competitive edge.
“It is a bit different to what you’re used to normally, coming out and playing a touring side, but the effort from the boys, the skill level and the competition between us can only help us prepare for what’s to come.”
ALSO READ: ‘This is one of the hardest sports teams to get into in the world’
As he looked ahead, Stone was eager to put his injury woes behind him, having missed out on tours of the Caribbean, New Zealand and South Africa in recent times.
“I feel in a great place, I’ve obviously had those injuries in the past but hopefully they are in the past now and no longer,” he said. “It’s the nature of fast bowling to pick up niggles but it’s just finding a way to manage them. I feel great and I’m ready to go.”
Stone also wants to break into the established pace rivalry between Mark Wood and Jofra Archer.
“Don’t get me wrong, you do have a little look at the speed guns,” Stone said. “But I’ll just keep going about my business. I’ll do what I do at the crease and let the other end take care of itself. To have a crop of fast bowlers coming through is exciting. I’ve always said I like pace and I’d love to have as much of that in the team as possible.”
Archer will be rested from the ODI leg of the tour, along with Sam Curran and Ben Stokes, with the ECB mindful of the amount of time players have spent in bio-secure conditions away from family. All three played at the IPL in the UAE, Stokes after spending time in New Zealand with his ill father.
England’s preparation is going ahead as planned despite a second positive Covid-19 test within the South African squad forcing the hosts to cancel their warm-up on Saturday. A total of four South Africa players have entered self-isolation, including two who were in close contact with the first of the two players to test positive.