Meet England's fast learner Olly Stone, whose variety is a key asset

Olly Stone is England’s 90mph bowler but it was his variety that brought him four wickets in the second Test defeat in India… now he hopes to get another crack at Virat Kohli and Co in Ahmedabad

  • Olly Stone has shown that he can learn quickly during England’s tour of India 
  • Stone took four wickets in just his second Test as he demonstrated his variety
  • The 27-year-old says he has learnt a lot from Stuart Broad and Jimmy Anderson  

The pitch in Chennai may have been the slowest he has ever played on, but Olly Stone is proving to be a quick learner on England’s tour of India.

In a match dominated by spin, Stone took four wickets in just his second Test and despite consistently hitting 90mph, it was the 27-year-old’s variations rather than raw pace that stood out.

‘It was nice to put in a good performance in Chennai, and hopefully show people that I can do it on that kind of stage,’ Stone tells Sportsmail. ‘People did say that I was getting some good speeds but it felt more like early 80s the way it was coming off the pitch.

Olly Stone put in an impressive display in Chennai and is proving that he is a quick learner

Stone admitted that it was difficult to adapt to the conditions and that he had to be savvy

‘I guess bowling at anyone in their own backyard is tough. They know the conditions, so you have to be accurate, a bit savvier with what variations you use. If you miss your length and try something different, you do get punished.

‘You almost need a T20 mentality to put a bit of doubt in the batsman’s mind. Obviously when the pitch starts to wear — and it did wear pretty quickly — those variations can be lethal.

‘You saw Stuart Broad with his leg-cutters creating chances. Having pace is great but sometimes you do need to have those variations so the batsman can’t get used to it. Sometimes your quicker ball has to be the surprise delivery rather than your stock ball.’

The variety he showed in Chennai suggests a future in the shorter formats, too.

An indication of his value in T20 cricket could come as early as Tuesday, as the results from the Hundred draft are made public. But for now he has a Test series against India to worry about, and Stone’s performance in the second Test — albeit in a losing cause — would have received nods of approval from Jimmy Anderson and Broad, who have flogged themselves on similar surfaces in the past.

Stone revealed that he has gained much knowledge from Stuart Broad and Jimmy Anderson

The Warwickshire man is quick to praise the influence the stellar duo have had on him so far this winter.

‘It is great to be able to pick their brains and they are brilliant at passing on their knowledge as well,’ Stone says. ‘I’ve learned quite a lot from them in a short space of time.

‘Hopefully, for however long they are around, I can keep tapping into that knowledge. It is also nice that when things aren’t perhaps going the way you want out on the field, there’s a calm and experienced head next to you to either slow you down or give you a bit of information.’

Both Broad, 34, and Anderson, 38 have openly questioned how many five-day matches they will play in tandem before they finally call it a day. 

It appears that Stone could be a fixture in the England Test side for some time to come

In contrast, Stone looks set to be a fixture in this England Test squad for some time to come, especially with the Ashes Down Under later this year.

Whether he plays in the third Test starting on Wednesday in Ahmedabad remains to be seen, as another England paceman Jofra Archer, who played in the first Test victory, is fit again after an elbow niggle.

But Stone is hoping he is selected again and that England can make up for the second-Test defeat.

It was their first performance in front of a crowd for more than 12 months and it could hardly have gone worse — their heaviest defeat ever against India.

England go into the third match of the series knowing another slip-up will cost them a place in this year’s World Test Championship final.

Joe Root’s side also face the task of keeping a huge crowd in Ahmedabad’s Motera Stadium — the biggest ground in world cricket — quiet.

It will be a world away from the rather more sedate surroundings of Northamptonshire’s Wantage Road, where Stone cut his teeth.

Stone is looking forward to eventually being able to play in front of a packed crowd again

‘There are rumours of 55,000 people in the next stadium, so that could be an eye-opener,’ Stone says.

‘I have to say though, the Northants ground does pack a punch when it is full for a T20 on a Friday night. It can get rowdy there as well.

‘It was very strange to play without crowds last summer and fingers crossed they can be let in sooner rather than later back home.

‘It would be nice to give the fans something back for all the support they have given us, even last year when they couldn’t get in the ground.

‘There’s nothing better than playing in front of a full house. That’s what we all want and hopefully we’ll get to see that this season.’

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