London [U.K]: Surrey batsman Mark Stoneman is in line to become Alastair Cook’s new opening partner after earning a maiden call up in the 13-man England squad for the opening Test of the three-match series against West Indies, beginning August 17 at Edgbaston.
Besides Stoneman, Hampshire legspinner Mason Crane is also in the frame for a Test debut after being named in the national squad.
The uncapped pair are among three changes to the squad which clinched a 3-1 series win over South Africa following the Joe Root-led side huge 177-run win in the final Test at Old Trafford on Monday.
Stoneman who has smashed three centuries and averaged 59 in first-class cricket since moving from Durham to Surrey this season, has been called in place of Keaton Jennings who endured a tough time against South Africa in the four-match series.
Crane, on the other hand, will replace his county team-mate Liam Dawson and now he holds a great chance to seal a possible Ashes wildcard after playing grade cricket in Australia last season and earning a call-up to the New South Wales team in the Sheffield Shield.
Reflecting on the pair’s inclusion, England national selector James Whitaker said that Stoneman and Crane truly deserved the opportunity.
“After an excellent series victory over South Africa, our first against them on home soil since 1998, we now look forward to building on our success against the West Indies. The selectors would like to offer their congratulations to Mark Stoneman and Mason Crane who thoroughly deserve their opportunity in the squad,” ESPNcricinfo quoted Whitaker as saying.
Meanwhile, swing-bowling allrounder Chris Woakes, who has recovered fully from a side strain that forced him to withdraw from England’s Champions Trophy campaign in June, has been recalled in the squad.
The opening Test in Birmingham will be the first-ever day-night Test to be staged in the country. The other two matches will be played in Headingley (August 25-August 29) and Lord’s (September 7 to Septeber 11).
England squad for opening Test is as follows:
Joe Root (capt), Moeen Ali, James Anderson, Jonny Bairstow (wk), Stuart Broad, Alastair Cook, Mason Crane, David Malan, Toby Roland-Jones, Ben Stokes, Mark Stoneman, Tom Westley and Chris Woakes.( ANI)