Fast bowler Olly Stone hopes to play for England for “many years to come” after banishing doubts that his body would not be up to the demands of Test cricket.
Stone returned 3-29 on his Test debut against Ireland in 2019 only to succumb to a stress fracture of the back before further problems limited his appearances in 2020.
The 27-year-old has managed just 38 first-class matches in nearly nine years as a result but retains the faith of the selectors, who could recall him for the second Test against Sri Lanka.
“It has been frustrating, of course it has,” said Stone. “There have been times when you question if it’s the right thing to do.
“But then you think, ‘yeah, of course it is’. It has been hard, but I guess you’ve just got to get people around who help support you. My family, girlfriend and friends have been vital.
“Picking up injuries along the way isn’t ideal. It is going to happen as a fast bowler but you try to minimise those.
“I love playing cricket, I love playing cricket for England and hopefully there’s many more years of that to come.”
England’s busy Test schedule means that rotation will be a key part of selection in 2021 – the selectors opting to leave James Anderson out for the seven-wicket win over Sri Lanka in the first Test.
With Jofra Archer rested for the tour, Stone could come into the side in place of fellow paceman Mark Wood for the second match of the series after the Durham paceman’s exhaustive efforts went unrewarded.
“I guess we seamers always thought coming out here that spinners would play the attacking role but it’s a challenge that we all look forward to as fast bowlers,” said Stone.
“Although the pitches aren’t friendly, if you can get that breakthrough and do that holding role, you can add to the attack.
“There will be times when you have to do the hard yards but it’s something we love doing. You saw in the last Test how many times Woody ran in and it was great to see.”
While Wood and Archer have both been clocked at more than 96mph in England colours, Stone says that changes in conditions, fitness and rhythm mean it is hard to decipher who is the quickest.
“I wouldn’t say we’re competing but I guess it’s hard not to have that competitive edge with each other: that’s just us as cricketers,” said Stone, who believes his quickest recorded speed is 93.8mph.
“It’s great to have a group of us now that are building together and hopefully one day we can all feature and show people what it’s all about.
“I find it exciting to have three of us – and there are plenty of others that aren’t around at the moment too – who can add to that.”
Watch day one of the second Test between Sri Lanka and England live on Sky Sports Cricket from 4am on Friday, with over-by-over commentary and in-play video clips on Sky Sports’ digital platforms.