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  • England 3 min read

    Stoneman: England call still hasn't sunk in

    Mark Stoneman was getting the coffees in for his Surrey team-mates when he got his England call up

    Mark Stoneman's first thoughts were for his family when his childhood dream of being picked by England was realised during the last day of Surrey's Specsavers County Championship match with Somerset at Taunton.

    It was just before tea that Stoneman, who had been dismissed for top score of 67 in Surrey's first innings, received a call on his mobile phone that caused him to quickly deposit the tray of coffee he was carrying to the visiting dressing room.

    "It was my turn for the coffee run and I felt my phone vibrate in my pocket," he said. "I put the tray down in a dug-out and went around the corner to take the call.

    "I saw Mr Whitaker's name and answered quickly before it could go onto voicemail. I knew it was today that the squad for the first Test against West Indies was being announced and had seen a few tweets, but still didn't know if it would be good or bad news.

    "It still hasn't quite sunk in. I made a few quick calls to my wife, parents and sister. Everyone was quite emotional because it has been a long road with a few ups and downs along the way.

    "My dad Ian is a typical Northern bloke who kept his emotions in check during my call. I bet he shed a tear or two when he put the phone down though because he will be so proud.

    "I used to follow him around from the age of about four when he played in the various leagues around the North East, carrying my little plastic bat and ball. I owe so much to my parents. I grew up watching the likes of Alec Stewart playing for England on TV and dreamed of following in his footsteps."

    At the age of 30, Test selection has come at a relatively late stage in Stoneman's career. It follows a good deal of speculation throughout the summer, which he has handled brilliantly.

    I made a few quick calls to my wife, parents and sister. Everyone was quite emotional because it has been a long road with a few ups and downs along the way

    Mark Stoneman

    "The realisation that there are a lot of good players around made me aware that I had to keep on putting in performances week-in, week-out," he said. "I tried to keep things simple and ensure my name was in the right area of the batting charts at the right time, without getting ahead of myself."

    Stoneman has experience of playing against a pink ball under lights for Durham in the annual County Championship curtain-raiser between the champions and the MCC in Abu-Dhabi, scoring a century in the 2014 match, and is delighted to be in the squad for the first day-night Test in England at Edbaston, starting next Thursday.

    "It's fantastic to be in the squad for such an historic game," he said. "It will be step into the unknown for a lot of players and I hope to be part of that. First and foremost I want to get into the England team and stay there. You can never look too far ahead, but I will try to treasure every momeny of involvement."

    Stoneman took time to spare a thought for Keaton Jennings, a player he knows well from his Durham days, and who he now replaces in the England squad.

    "Keats is a top guy and we have spent a long time working together," he said. "He has come up against a fantastic attack in the last few Tests and I will be calling him to wish him all the best.

    "It was character-building for me to play on some of the pitches at Chester-le-Street as a young batsman. You watch other batsmen and try and find a method of making runs in all conditions.

    "Having a fresh challenge with Surrey has helped concentrate my mind this summer. I don't think the move is what has got me picked by England, but it has enabled me to continue the work I had done over the past four years.

    "Surrey told me they thought I would go on to play for England, as well as helping them achieve success, and that belief was very important to me."

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