England prepare to hand Olly Stone Dambulla debut after impressive week

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England are preparing to hand Olly Stone a debut as they begin their winter travels with a one-day international in Dambulla.

The Warwickshire paceman has impressed during his first week with the senior international squad and looks set to make the XI for the first of five ODIs in Sri Lanka.

Stone, who turned 25 on Tuesday, sent down six lively overs in England’s only warm-up match and has impressed enough in nets to nudge himself into the team.

With Liam Plunkett having been excused for the first three games of the series to get married, Stone is seen as the best like-for-like replacement and will bring some extra pace to the touring team.

Vice-captain Jos Buttler, who kept wicket to the seamer in Colombo last week, said: “He’s hitting the gloves hard, I thought he was impressive.

“The guys facing him in the nets said it wasn’t that enjoyable. He’s obviously had a great season and come back really well from injury. I think he is a really exciting prospect.

“They (Stone and Plunkett) perform a pretty similar role: a big, tall guy with a lot of pace.”

Elsewhere in the side Alex Hales looks set to be the odd man out at the top of the order, amid reports he has agreed a controversial deal to play in the Bangladesh Premier League.

Hales, alongside captain Eoin Morgan, declined to tour the country in 2016 on security grounds but has now been linked with
a lucrative franchise stint in the domestic Twenty20 competition.

England’s selection plans will not have been affected by the link, with Jason Roy and Jonny Bairstow always considered the likelier opening pair on this trip.

The final place in the side may not be decided until the pitch is revealed, with paceman Mark Wood and third-choice spinner Liam Dawson vying for one slot.

Whatever happens, Morgan’s place is not under any imminent danger. Despite that, the Dubliner took the unusual step of suggesting he would not be afraid to axe himself if it improved the team’s chances at next summer’s home World Cup.

Morgan told Sky Sports Cricket: “When you drop yourself as captain it almost sets that example, that nobody’s place is cemented in this side.

“If I’m not supposed to be in the team I’ll be the first one to say it. If it means making a tough decision I’m more than capable of doing that.

“It’s a brave call, but we’ve come a long way with this team. We need to put ourselves in the best position in order to be contenders. If that means I’m not good enough to be in the team, both as a captain or as a player…I’m a pretty honest guy.”

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