He may be Alastair Cook’s 12th opening Test partner since Andrew Strauss retired in 2012 but one big thing in his favour is that, at the age of 30, he knows his game so much better than many of the other guys who have been handed that position.
He has so many runs under his belt in domestic cricket and he has played the majority of his career on a ground at Durham that’s not easy to score runs on. When he makes the step up to Test cricket, those pitches will be the flattest he has ever played on.
Naturally, Mark will be nervous but there will be a lot of excitement in there as well. It’s a case of getting through those first few balls and then settling in and treating it like any normal innings.
He needs to play like Mark Stoneman the Surrey batsman, rather than thinking about being an England batsman. He doesn’t have to play any different to how he normally does.
With this being a day-night Test, things won’t be as straightforward for him as they could be.
Yes, it’s a pink ball, and he could find himself batting under lights, but he will be used to the ball doing plenty up at Durham. He’s also used to batting under lights in white-ball cricket. So, while it’s foreign with a pink ball, the other aspects won’t be foreign to him.
I don’t think the fact Cook has yet another opening partner will bother him at all.
Cook is so used to chopping and changing and so experienced and knowledgeable himself that I think Mark is very lucky to have him at the other end. There’s not many better batsmen to help you find your feet on debut because he’s always so calm and measured.
As for how it will be for Mark coming into this England team on a practical level, I know what it’s like being a new player in this environment.
If you’re coming into the changing room now, you’re very lucky because it’s very easy to walk in to. It’s not as daunting as it used to be, like when I made my debut in a different set-up in 2012. I hadn’t played much with a lot of those guys but there are no egos in this changing-room at all, which makes it very easy to fit in.
Paul Farbrace, the assistant coach, definitely makes things easier because he takes new guys under his wing, is very positive and complimentary and gives people a massive confidence boost. He’ll always put an arm around your shoulder and make sure you’re fitting in and being welcomed.
Edgbaston also offers a big opportunity to Tom Westley and Dawid Malan, both of whom will be playing only their third Test after they came in during the South Africa series.
I think they’ll be more nervous thinking about the chance of making that Ashes tour than facing the West Indies. They’ll desperately want to stake a claim because the chance to play an Ashes series in Australia doesn’t come around too often.
They’ll be wanting to score runs for their country but I think, most importantly, they’ll want to book a seat on that plane to Australia. It’s a massive opportunity to get on the biggest winter tour they’ll have in their careers.
Both came under a lot of scrutiny during their first two Tests. It’s always the way that new guys will have their techniques pulled apart and analysed by former players in the media.
But you’ve got to blank it out. You have to trust your game, trust what got you into the team in the first place. Malan has had a tough time against South Africa. But I really like the look of Westley. He has stuck to his gameplan and hasn’t changed anything.
Yes, he has had a few starts, including a half-century on debut at The Oval, and when you get in, you want to make a big score. But I think that’ll be around the corner for him.
Expect the pink ball to bring out funky side of Root
I’m excited by the prospect of the first day-night Test match in England and Edgbaston, where the atmosphere is always fantastic, is the perfect venue for it.
I think it’s great to introduce something slightly different in Test cricket.
Sometimes too much can be made of conditions. First and foremost, it’ll be an interesting spectacle and one I’m looking forward to watching.
Potentially it’ll be more tactical as well if a captain really does think now is the time to stop batting and get the bowlers in during that twilight period.
It will be intriguing because I wouldn’t put it past Joe Root to do something funky and if ever there’s an opportunity to do it, it’s against West Indies.
They’re not the strongest line-up so if you’re going to try something bold you’ll probably be able to get away with it against them.
Yes, they’ve got some talented players but they’re not South Africa.