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Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 September 2018

England pick Mark Stoneman to partner Alastair Cook for West Indies cricket series

Stoneman becomes veteran left-handed batsman's 12th opening partner since retirement of Strauss.

Mark Stoneman will be Alastair Cook's 12th opening partner when England face West Indies next week. Harry Trump / Getty Images
Mark Stoneman will be Alastair Cook's 12th opening partner when England face West Indies next week. Harry Trump / Getty Images

Mark Stoneman is set to become Alastair Cook's latest England opening partner after being selected to make his debut in next week's day-night first Test against the West Indies at Edgbaston.

Surrey batsman Stoneman was included in a 13-man squad announced on Thursday from which the struggling Keaton Jennings was dropped.

The Durham opener only averaged 15.87 in eight innings during England's recent 3-1 series win over his native South Africa, which concluded with a 177-run victory in the fourth Test at Old Trafford on Monday.

Now Surrey batsman Stoneman, a former Durham teammate of Jennings, is in line to become Cook's 12th partner at the top of the order in five years since the retirement of former captain Andrew Strauss.

Stoneman, 30, has scored 1,000 runs in first-class cricket this season, including a highest score of 197, while averaging 58.82 with three centuries.

By replacing Jennings, Stoneman will form another all-left-handed combination at the top of England's order with Cook in a match that starts at Birmingham's Edgbaston ground on Thursday, July 17.

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Meanwhile Hampshire leg-spinner Mason Crane has been called into a Test squad for the first time having also impressed in England's first-class County Championship this season.

"Selectors would like to offer their congratulations to Mark Stoneman and Mason Crane who thoroughly deserve their opportunity in the squad," England selector James Whitaker said in an England and Wales Cricket Board statement.

The former England batsman had some words of consolation for Jennings, saying: "Keaton Jennings will return to Durham and will look to recapture the form that earned him selection in the first place.

"I am sure he will find his confidence and look to score runs in the remaining matches of this season."

Fit again pace-bowling all-rounder Chris Woakes has replaced Steven Finn in the squad for a match on his Warwickshire home ground that will be the first day-night Test ever staged in England.

Woakes has fully recovered from a side strain sustained during the Champions Trophy in June and has missed most of the season.

But he made a return to the County Championship earlier this week, where he took five wickets in the match and scored 53 in the second innings as Warwickshire beat Middlesex at Lord's.

"He was impressive in his return game at Lord's this week and if selected in the final line-up, he will be relishing the prospect of playing on his home ground," Whitaker said of Woakes.

The West Indies campaign will see Joe Root, in conjunction with coach Trevior Bayliss, looking to carry on from where he left off after his first Test series as England captain ended in a resounding victory.

"On behalf of the selectors, I would like to wish Joe Root, Trevor Bayliss and all the squad the very best for what will be an exciting series against West Indies," Whitaker said.

The Edgbaston day-night match is the first of three Tests between England and the West Indies, with the teams meeting again at Headingley before the series concludes at Lord's.

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England v West Indies

England squad for the first Test Cook, Stoneman, Westley, Root (captain), Malan, Stokes, Bairstow, Moeen, Roland-Jones, Broad, Anderson, Woakes, Crane

Fixtures

1st Test Aug 17-21, Edgbaston

2nd Test Aug 25-29, Headingley

3rd Test Sep 7-11, Lord's

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