CricViz analyst Ben Jones profiles Mark Stoneman.
ENGLAND’S LATEST OPENER
Mark Stoneman is Alastair Cook’s 12th opening partner since the retirement of Andrew Strauss and so far has had a solid, albeit unspectacular start to his Test career. In three Tests Stoneman has passed fifty once and scored an unbeaten 40 to guide England to victory against the West Indies. Stoneman won selection to the England team on the back of consistent run-scoring in the County Championship where he scored 1,000 runs in 2014, 2015 and 2016 when playing for Durham before moving to Surrey at the start of the 2017 season and eventually progressing to the Test team.
PLAYING WITHIN HIMSELF
Given that Stoneman’s Test career is still in its infancy his game is best analysed largely through his domestic performances.
Stoneman has played much of his cricket in Durham, which has among the lowest batting averages against pace in the past three seasons of Championship cricket which makes his consistent run-scoring more impressive. Since the start of 2013 Stoneman averages 37.02 against pace and 44.86 against spin in the County Championship.
At domestic level Stoneman has been a positive player against pace, looking to score off 50% of deliveries (county average 47%) and defending or playing no shot to 50% (county average 54%). It is indicative of the step up in quality – and perhaps his desire to succeed and not waste his opportunity – that in his short Test career so far Stoneman has only looked to score off 42% of deliveries in Test cricket and played no shot or defended 58% of deliveries.
This change in intent is particularly interesting given that in county cricket Stoneman has exhibited an unusually weak defensive game against pace: dismissed once every 38.19 shots – well below the average for opening batsmen in county cricket of 49.04. This can partly be attributed to Stoneman playing a lot of his cricket in Durham, however it is a worrying trait for a Test match opening batsman. It will be interesting to see whether he persists with such intent in The Ashes or whether his natural game will take over.
Stoneman has also shown a strong preference for scoring on the off side against pace in county cricket, scoring 63% of his runs that side of the pitch. This is largely the product of his successful drive shot – with which he averages 67.48. Stoneman’s averages of 100.00 when pulling and 63.33 when cutting show him to be strong off the back foot as well.
Stoneman’s healthy record against spin in county cricket appears to be the product of a very strong defensive game which sees him boast an excellent 129 defensive shots per dismissal and a varied attacking game which sees him boast high averages for driving, sweeping cutting and pulling.
TEST OF PATIENCE
A paucity of ball-tracking data for Stoneman makes it difficult to draw too many conclusions regarding where Australia should bowl to him. However, based on domestic data Australia could look to choke his scoring options on the off side where he scores a significant majority of his runs, and test his patience and apparently suspect defensive game.
Australia would be well-served by employing this tactic from round the wicket – an angle from which in Test cricket Stoneman has been dismissed three times at an average of just 15.33 compared to one dismissal at an average of 37.00 from over the wicket. The Dismissal Heatmap above shows how those round the wicket dismissals have been honing in on the top of off stump, challenging Stoneman’s defence.
Ben Jones is an analyst at CricViz. @benjones_13