Mark Stoneman has done more than enough to secure a place on the Ashes squad


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MARK STONEMAN – tick. Tom Westley – cross. Dawid Malan – question mark.

There were further clues on Sunday to solving the great England batting riddle as selectors continue to analyse the contenders for this winter’s Ashes tour.


Mark Stoneman should be included in the England squad for the Ashes

The left-hander scored an impressive half-century

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The left-hander scored an impressive half-century

Stoneman made his first international half-century and helped England into a position where they can contemplate winning the Investec Second Test at Headingley.

With Joe Root scoring 45 sometimes fortuitous runs, England ended day three with 171-3 in their second innings – just two runs ahead and things evenly poised.

Surrey left-hander Stoneman appeared composed and comfortable, overcame a blow that dislocated his left little finger and it took a ripper of a ball to remove him.

It will almost certainly be sufficient to plonk him on the plane to Australia in late October.

Westley, by contrast, was all at sea and should have been run out in a village-style mix-up before swishing horrendously and edging a catch behind for just eight.

The Essex man scored a half-century in his debut Test but his last four scores have been nine, eight, three and eight as his confidence drains and his technique is dissected.

Tom Westley did not do enough against the West Indies

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Tom Westley did not do enough against the West Indies

He must pray the hierarchy give him another opportunity in the final Test of the summer at Lord’s early next month. Otherwise, his Ashes chances have turned to ash.

Malan looked far from convincing and would have been given out on four if West Indies had reviewed because ultra edge showed a nick.

On 12, the Middlesex left-hander survived the most adjacent of lbw reviews when the ball was hitting leg stump – but he’d been given not out so it was ‘umpire’s call.’

Malan is still there, however, and has the chance to add more runs to the half-century he made at Edgbaston.

Stoneman claimed the Ashes tour is not on his mind, insisting: “Just getting here has been a long enough road so I’m not thinking about or trying to forecast anything beyond my next innings.

“I’ve generally felt comfortable in the two games I’ve played. I’m happy with my movement in practice and in the middle and also my shot selection. Even when I got out, I’ve not been too self-critical.

“Nothing can prepare you for the intensity and scrutiny of Test cricket but I think playing against different attacks over the years has helped my game.

“When I was hit on the finger, I thought, ‘Wow, that hurts.’ I didn’t feel right when I tried to move it. But the physio came out and put the finger back. I’ve dislocated fingers a couple of times before when fielding but never when batting.”

There is still a question mark over Dawid Malan

PA:Press Association

There is still a question mark over Dawid Malan

England began their second innings 169 runs behind and their scoring was restricted so effectively that they cleared the deficit only in the final over.

The Windies bowled really well, with discipline and swing, and are utterly transformed from the team that turned up at Edgbaston last week.

Alastair Cook nicked off during a superb spell from Holder and then Westley departed after an unhappy half-hour at the crease.

Stoneman had his stumps exploded by the high-velocity Shannon Gabriel but he showed enough to suggest he can hack it at the highest level.

Root took 21 balls to get off the mark and was dropped in the gully by Kyle Hope on ten. Then, he was given out lbw to Jason Holder on 35 only for a review to show the ball was missing the stumps.

The day began in sensational fashion when James Anderson dismissed Shai Hope and Shane Dowrich with the first two deliveries.

But Jermaine Blackwood and Holder put on 75 lively runs for the eighth wicket although Blackwood, on 21, was reprieved when Moeen Ali dropped a total dolly at mid-on off Stuart Broad.

Moeen held a far more difficult catch, running back at long-off, to remove Holder for 43 and Blackwood was run out by Ben Stokes’ throw and a sharp take by Jonny Bairstow.

Gabriel hit Moeen for a straight six before being last out, lbw to Stokes.

England cricket stars Joe Root and Jimmy Anderson chance their arm with a fielding throwing challenge

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