Stone determined to live up to billing as England’s Ferrari in Sri Lanka

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Olly Stone smiles a little sheepishly when reminded he has been dubbed a Ferrari among fast bowlers but is determined to prove he warrants a place on the podium when England embark on their own Sri Lankan grand prix.

Stone, 24, is the great pace bowling hope fast-tracked into both the one-day and Test squads with the intention of providing the missing x-factor in England’s attack on unresponsive overseas pitches.

And he wants to live up to the super-car billing given him by Warwickshire director of cricket Ashley Giles by bowling upwards of 90 miles per hour and, crucially, staying fit when England embark on the white-ball leg of their tour.

‘There were a few little jokes after Ashley said that, with the Warwickshire lads calling me Enzo, but hopefully it won’t stick,’ said Stone after Eoin Morgan’s England arrived for a five-match 50-over series against Sri Lanka.

‘I just try to run in and bowl as quick as I can all the time, which can be my downfall, but I guess it’s what got me here and it’s something I don’t want to go away from. I will go out there and give it my all.’

Stone was arguably the fastest bowler in English cricket this season with a breakthrough year that saw him take his 34 championship wickets at just 12 apiece but it was not too long ago that he looked destined for the scrap yard.

It was two years ago when he suffered a potentially career ending injury in freak circumstances, snapping his anterior cruciate ligament while celebrating taking the wicket of Moeen Ali for Northamptonshire against Worcestershire and then tearing his cartilage attempting to bowl another ball.

‘When it happened I was told I might never get back to where I was and there were some dark times,’ admitted Stone as he attended a welcoming function last night with the England team at Colombo’s British High Commission.

‘Doing it celebrating a wicket wasn’t a career highlight, that’s for sure. It was really simple. I just jumped up in the air and as I landed I hyper-extended. Silly old me then tried to bowl another ball which didn’t happen and that was where all the problems came from.

‘But I’m very grateful to Warwickshire for giving me a fresh chance and my knee’s all good now. Any other little niggles that have come since are all simply to do with fast bowling. I feel good and my body’s ready.’

And the first thing Stone did when meeting up with his England white-ball team-mates for the first time was share a joke with the man who inadvertently ’caused’ the serious injury by getting out in the first place.

‘I actually had a little chuckle with Moeen about it on the way here tonight,’ said Stone. ‘A few lads didn’t realise how long I’d been out for after it. Mo said ‘what did you do again?’ and ‘it must have been a good wicket then for you to do that!’ It’s something I have a laugh about and it doesn’t faze me at all.

Now he is in Sri Lanka he wants to speed his way into England’s white and red-ball teams. ‘It’s amazing. I never would have thought I’d be in one squad, let alone both,’ added Stone. ‘At the start of the year it was just good to be playing cricket again so to be here is something I’m just looking to relish.’

And any wickets against Sri Lanka will be met by nothing more than a celebratory fist pump for this cricketing Ferrari. Just in case.

 

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