Stoneman ‘feared the worst’ after finger dislocation
Mark Stoneman shrugged off the pain of a dislocated finger to go on and make his maiden Test half-century in a valuable innings that helped to keep England scrapping in the second Investec Test at Headingley, though he admitted afterwards to “fearing the worst” having being hit on the hand by Jason Holder shortly after tea on the third day.
Stoneman wrung his left hand in pain after removing his glove and required treatment on the field. England’s physio was able to put the joint of his little finger back into place straight away and, although it required ice in the dressing room after his dismissal for 52, he was not required to go to hospital for further investigation.
“At first I thought ‘ow, that hurts’. Then when I tried to bend my hand inside the glove it certainly didn’t feel right,” he said. “When I took my glove off and saw it I was fearing the worst but, thankfully, the physio got it back in and there didn’t seem to be too much damage. It was working fine apart from a bit of pain.”
Although Stoneman’s innings was not quite substantial enough to end all debate about the position of opener, it was an important first step for the 30-year-old, playing in his second Test. He batted with calm assurance as England set about erasing a 169-run first-innings deficit and was only removed by another fearsome delivery – similar to his dismissal at Edgbaston – when Shannon Gabriel found some away movement with the old ball to hit the top of off stump.
Nevertheless, Stoneman was pleased to make his first mark in international cricket. “It was really good,” he said. “The way the game has panned out, the situation allowed us to forget about all the things on the periphery and just try to get into the contest before us. You’re obviously under a bit of pressure, they’re looking to take wickets with the new ball and do as much damage as they possibly can. To get through a new-ball spell and establish a partnership was nice.
“I’ve been really happy with my movements in practice and even in my couple of innings beforehand. I felt I was moving well and was happy with my selections, it was just a case of missing out really. I wasn’t trying to be too critical on myself.”
Tom Westley’s second failure in the match was likely to prompt further speculation about England’s likely batting line-up for the Ashes but Stoneman was keen not to look too far ahead.
“Just getting here was a long enough road, so to start trying to forecast anything beyond my next innings would be daft. I’ve just got to play each one as it comes,” he said. “You want [your England career] to be as long as possible but that can only be if I take the opportunity that comes next rather than think I’m going to be given a run of games to make the most of. I know I’ve got to do it from ball one really.”
Stoneman said that England’s “strong day” could make them favourites, having edged into a slender lead by the close with seven wickets still standing, and suggested that a target of above 200 may prove difficult for West Indies to chase in the fourth innings.
“Anything over 200 would feel really in the game, with the quality of bowling we have,” he said. “We do have fantastic batting all the way down. It’s definitely a positive day for us and the momentum is probably now in our favour.”
Holder, West Indies’ captain, had a slightly lower figure in mind and was hopeful that his players would reassert themselves in the morning, having suffered another self-inflicted setback in the field during the evening session by dropping Joe Root – for the second time in the match – on 10. Root finished the day unbeaten on 45 and is likely to be the key wicket as England attempt to stretch ahead.
“I think it’s evenly poised at this stage,” Holder said. “We’ve got three wickets so far, they’ve only got a lead of two runs. I think it’s important tomorrow morning we hit our straps. We’ve got to be patient, make sure the English batters work hard for the runs. Consistency and patience are the name of the game tomorrow.
“I think anywhere around 150 should be pretty decent, it’s still a pretty good pitch, slow-ish in nature. There’s a bit of spin but wide, from the rough. Seamers I still think will play a big role second innings, so anywhere around 150 we’d be happy with.”
Holder also chose not to review an apparent edge behind off Dawid Malan, the other not-out batsman, when he had made 4 and also faced questions about his limited use of the legspinner Devendra Bishoo, who bowled just two overs. Holder said Bishoo would still have a big role to play and that the preference of Roston Chase was due to his ability to turn the ball away from England’s left-handers by bowling into the rough outside off stump.
The captain’s contribution with bat and ball could not be faulted, however. Holder scored an aggressive 43, having come to the crease for the third delivery of the day with James Anderson on a hat-trick, and then took two of the three England wickets to fall, setting the tone for his team in their attempts to secure a first Test win in England for 17 years.
“It’s always pleasing to contribute to the team cause,” he said. “I don’t doubt my ability, I know what I can achieve. I don’t think I have too much to prove to people, I just go out there and try to perform, whatever the team needs me to do. The guys have really showed fight in this game and that’s commendable but it’s important to come tomorrow and work even harder in terms of breaking this partnership.”
Alan Gardner is an associate editor at ESPNcricinfo. @alanroderick
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