England fast bowler Olly Stone is “hungry” to return to Test cricket after a litany of injury problems and is hoping to play in The Ashes next summer.
Stone admitted last year that he considered retiring from the longest form after suffering a fourth stress fracture of the back, which resulted in a metal screw being inserted in order to strengthen his spine.
The 29-year-old then broke his finger during the 2022 summer but has since returned to fitness and is currently part of the England ODI squad in Australia that will be trying to avoid a 3-0 series sweep by winning Tuesday’s final game in Melbourne (3.20am UK time).
Stone is now targeting facing Australia again in Test whites across June and July and wants to make his red-ball return in New Zealand in February.
He said: “I’ve spoken to Stokesy [England Test captain Ben Stokes] and just said how I want to still play Test cricket, I’ve still got that hunger.
“One of the main reasons why I went down the surgical route with my back was to be able to hopefully withstand that amount of cricket and demand on my body.
“There’s nothing better than five days of hard graft and coming off with a win. That hunger of playing Test cricket and seeing what happens in The Ashes is something I really want to be a part of.
“After Christmas there’s a combination of white-ball cricket and franchise cricket. Hopefully I can keep my loads up and get in a place that I can put my hand up and be selectable for Test cricket.
“Hopefully I can be involved in the New Zealand stuff then go from there. For me now it is about getting a good run of cricket under my belt and seeing what goes from there.”
Asked whether he would consider becoming a white-ball-only player in future, Stone said: “If my body fails me this time then I know I’ve done everything I can and I may have to look down that route unfortunately. Fingers crossed it doesn’t come to that.”
Big game for Roy as pressure mounts
The importance of England’s series in Australia has been called into question but, for Jason Roy, the third and final match could be absolutely pivotal.
After a summer in which he averaged less than 12 in T20 international cricket and below nine in The Hundred, low returns which ultimately cost him a spot at the T20 World Cup, Roy’s struggles have continued across the first two ODIs against Australia.
In Adelaide, he was cleaned up through the gate by Mitchell Starc, while he then snicked the same bowler down the leg-side in Sydney to depart for a duck.
With Jonny Bairstow due to return from his broken leg in 2023, Alex Hales in the frame after a successful T20I comeback, Phil Salt, Dawid Malan and James Vince in and around the squad, and the likes of Ben Duckett and Will Jacks on the outside, England are not short of top-order options ahead of next year’s 50-over World Cup in India.
The good news for Roy, perhaps, is that Starc will not play in Melbourne, with the left-arm quick rested ahead of the opening Test against West Indies next week.
Riley Meredith, a bowler the late, great Shane Warne had high hopes for, has been called into Australia’s squad for the match at the MCG.
Follow text updates from England’s third and final ODI against Australia from 3.20am on Tuesday on skysports.com and the Sky Sports App.