England's Stoneman looking forward to Australian taunts
(Reuters) - England opener Mark Stoneman is looking forward to a verbal barrage from Australia during the Ashes series in which he hopes to nail down his spot in the test side, the batsman has said.
England have struggled to find a regular opening partner for Alastair Cook in recent years but Stoneman -- the 12th batsman to be given the role since Andrew Strauss' retirement in 2012 -- has impressed selectors after his debut in August.
The 30-year-old, who has scored 120 runs from five test innings, has plenty of experience in first-class cricket with Durham and Surrey and is no stranger to Australian conditions having played grade cricket in Sydney for seven seasons.
"I'm quite looking forward to it, see what the sledgers have got for us," Stoneman told reporters as England prepare to face a Western Australia XI in a two-day game in Perth this weekend.
Stoneman believes that he has begun to develop a strong partnership with fellow left-hander Cook and said the banter between the two players has helped him ease into his role.
"It has only been a short while but I think he reads me quite well, too, from the other end as to whether he needs to give me a gee up or make me crack a smile.
"He's quite funny actually. All the time that I only ever saw him on the telly he just looked like a guy who was very calm, but you can have a bit of banter with him and he judges the mood quite well."
England captain Joe Root was keen to stress the importance of winning tour games as the visitors look to build momentum for the first test that starts on Nov. 23 in Brisbane.
"When we turn up to those games, it is about making sure we apply ourselves and get what we want out of them by trying to win and getting into the habit of winning early in the tour," Root said.
"So when the Tests come round we have belief from what we have done in the warm-up games."
After the weekend's game at the WACA Ground, England take on a Cricket Australia XI in Adelaide and Townsville.
(Reporting by Shrivathsa Sridhar in Bengaluru; Editing by Keith Weir)