England speculation will not distract Norfolk bowler after superb career-best performance
Speculation about an England call-up will not distract Norfolk fast bowling star Olly Stone after a brilliant start to the season.
Brundall-raised Stone took an outstanding career best of eight for 80 as he made a long-awaited home debut for Warwickshire.
The 24-year-old former England Under-19 captain suffered knee ligament damage when playing for Northamptonshire in 2016 and was eased back to full fitness last season, before being unleashed on Sussex at Edgbaston this week.
“Obviously it’s hard to not notice it, I try not to look into things too much,” Stone said of speculation that he could be called up for England’s upcoming Test series against Pakistan.
“My main aim for this year was to play some consistent cricket and do as much as I can for Warwickshire, try to get them out of Division Two and contribute to some white ball success.
“To see the chats around me maybe going on further is nice but at the moment I’m not getting carried away. If anything comes then I’ll take it in my stride but at the moment I’m just focussing on getting through every game and playing for Warwickshire.”
The former Thorpe St Andrew School pupil and Vauxhall Mallards player was called up for an England Lions fast bowling camp in the winter of 2015 but had to miss out with a stress fracture of his back, so is already well known to the England selectors.
“I played for the 19s and really enjoyed that, so I’m keen for some more international games,” he continued. “They got in contact when my injury happened and said if we needed anything, whether it’s video stuff or help with the rehab, they were there.
“They did keep a bit of contact, not really regular contact but enough to say hello and to keep my face in the picture.”
Stone begins a reunion against Northants tomorrow and is looking to build on the momentum of his memorable eight-fer, to keep repaying Warwickshire’s faith.
“They’ve looked after me really well,” Stone added. “I was lucky enough to go to Aston Villa and use their hydrotherapy facilities. There were times when I felt ready but they held me back a little bit just to make sure I’m 100 percent right and that has all helped to make sure my knee feels perfectly fine now. For them to look after me as well as they have, I couldn’t be more grateful.”
Stone finished with figures of eight wickets for 80 runs from 22.5 overs, including four maidens, to gets his season off to a flying start having been largely restricted to Twenty20 games last season.
“To play a few games last year and only play one red ball game, away from home, before having to miss out with a bruised heel, it was good to get back going and finally show them what I can do,” he continued.
“I just went into it trying to pick up as many wickets as possible, the more wickets I got and we got meant that we got off the field quicker, so that was the main idea, to let the batsman get stuck in.
“It was probably a bit of a better start than I imagined! To start that well was a good feeling and to try and replicate that this week will be good.
“To get off to that great start brings lots of confidence though and I’m looking to take that forward.”
Stone stepped up his knee injury comeback with a rare appearance for Norfolk last summer and enjoyed some time back home.
“I love it, I still try and get back to Norwich as often as possible to see family and friends, and my girlfriend,” he concluded. “To play for Norfolk is always good, it’s a special place, I wouldn’t have got to where I am without their help so to come back, I’ll always play when I can, even if it’s for Vauxhall Mallards, is always special.
“It’s a good county to play for and a good bunch of lads.”