Olly Stone has left Warwickshire having loved his six years at the club and made "friends for life" at Edgbaston.
During his time with the Bears, whom he joined from Northamptonshire in 2017, Stone graduated from a paceman full of promise to a bowler who can disconcert the best batters and deliver world class spells.
He started in style for the Bears with eight for 80 on his home debut against Sussex. Injuries were to then sidelined him for long periods at times but he still took 68 first class wickets at 19.30 apiece and 44 T20 wickets at 22.30 for the Bears.
Stone, who will join Nottinghamshire for the 2023 season, is now back to fitness and training at Loughborough three times a week on standby for England. The 29-year-old leaves Warwickshire having produced some truly memorable bursts of fast bowling for the club – his work in 2018 (43 championship wickets at 12.20 apiece) evoked memories of the great Allan Donald is his prime.
Just like A.D, Stone is, as well as a top-drawer bowler, a top-drawer bloke who totally bought into the Bears as soon as he arrived and will always be regarded with greatest affection by all at Edgbaston. And just as with A.D, the feelings are very much reciprocated. “I came to Warwickshire knowing the history of the club and that they were usually up there challenging for trophies,” Stone said.
“Two big goals for me in my career were to play for England and win the Championship and I have been fortunate enough to do both with the Bears. “It has been a fantastic time for me as a cricketer and I have also made some friends for life. That is one of the great things about sport, you’ll always have friends for life and especially cricket, I think, where it seems to happen more.
“It’s been a really enjoyable time at Warwickshire and I have loved being part of such a great bunch of people but I had to make the right decision for me going forward and my career. I am really looking forward to the next chapter of my career at Nottinghamshire.”
Stone is eager to add to an England career – three Tests, four ODIs and one T20I so far – which has been largely kept on hold by a succession of injuries. The Bears’ medical staff, led by head physio Gerhard Mostert, have played a huge role in Stone’s progress to a point where, if he is fit next summer, he will be a potent option for England in the Ashes.
“It has been frustrating at times because when I’ve been fit I’ve felt that I’ve got into a strong position and influenced games for the Bears,” he said. “I’ve just tended to pick up injuries at the wrong time, including the recurring one which is why I went down the surgical route last year.
“I’ve been very fortunate with the support with the personnel I’ve been involved with at Edgbaston. Mozzy and Chris Armstrong to start with, then Mozzy and Jack Murfin and in the last couple of years Chris Cole and Rebecca MacLaren. I owe them a lot for getting me where I am now in my career and I like to think they know how grateful I am for all their brilliant work, even though I’d have liked to have spent less time with them and I’m sure they’d say the same!
“I’m fit now and feeling good and hopefully can have an injury-free run of cricket for Nottinghamshire and England, hopefully more for England because that will mean I’m doing well. I’m really excited for the new challenge ahead and I can’t wait to get it stuck in and show everyone what I can do.”
One intriguing prospect for 2023 is Stone powering in at Edgbaston against the Bears either in T20 or, following Nottinghamshire’s promotion and the Bears’ great escape, the Championship Division One. Stone bowling to Rob Yates with a red ball would be cricket to savour, as would Stone firing down rockets at the Bears in the Blast.
“It will be strange coming back to Edgbaston and being in the away dressing room,” he said.
And if Olly returns as an Outlaw in the Blast, he will no doubt get a lively welcome from the Hollies. “I wouldn’t expect anything else!” he said. “I have always loved playing at Edgbaston and the atmosphere with the Hollies in full cry is always a good one.”
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