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Mason Crane to make England Test debut in Ashes after Woakes injury

Joe Root confirmed that Mason Crane, the 20-year-old leg-spinner from Hampshire, would make his Test debut in Sydney on Thursday


Ashes 2017-18

Mason Crane to make England Test debut in Ashes after Woakes injury

  • 20-year-old from Hampshire to debut for England in fifth Test in Sydney
  • Woakes is unfit with side strain meaning Curran and Moeen retain places

Vic Marks in Sydney

Wed 3 Jan 2018 03.04 GMTLast modified on Wed 3 Jan 2018 09.09 GMT

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Woakes’ injury means Moeen Ali will retain his spot in England’s side alongside debutant Crane.Photograph: Rick Rycroft/AP

Mason Crane, the 20-year-old leg-spinner from Hampshire, will make his Test debut for England in Sydney on Thursday, while Mitchell Starc returns for Australia in place of Jackson Bird.

Crane’s remarkably swift ascent has been widely predicted since the Melbourne Test. The surprise – and disappointment for England – comes from the fact that Crane will replace Chris Woakes, rather than the obvious candidates after Melbourne, Tom Curran or Moeen Ali.

Woakes has a side strain, one of the worst injuries for a fast bowler, and was therefore unavailable for selection even before the results of his scan were known. The selectors have therefore been spared having to decide between Curran and the out-of form Moeen, who has never been dropped in his 48-test career.

“It was important for us to ensure that he [Woakes] would not be out for a long time,” said Root, who is also mindful that Woakes had a similar injury last year. “Hopefully he will be fit for the one-dayers.”

Over the last week Crane has been earmarked to play in Sydney. “The way he has conducted himself has been outstanding,” said Root. “As a young man he has been applying himself and absorbing himself in the tour.”

“He is right up for it and will not back down from any challenge. He should be a good option for this surface since it generally turns here. The pitch has dried out over the last 24 hours”.

Profile Meet Mason Show Hide

Born Feb 18 1997, Shoreham-on-Sea

County Hampshire 

Position Leg-spinner; right-hand bat

First class debut v Durham 19 July 2015. Took five wickets in match, including all four in second innings

Test caps 0 ODI apps 0

T20 apps 2

Career highs so far Taking Kumar Sangakkara’s wicket on first XI debut for Hants; dismissing AB de Villiers for England in summer T20

Photograph: Ryan Pierse/Getty Images AsiaPac

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Unlike several in the England side, Crane has played a first-class match at the SCG in New South Wales’ final fixture last season.

Root hinted that he might have retained Moeen in the side even if Woakes had been fit because of the nature of the pitch. “He has had a tough couple of games. But you don’t lose your ability in two matches. I’ve told him to relax and not to try too hard. He is at his best when he has fun.”

Australia’s selection issues are simpler than England’s and they centre on Mitchell Starc. Captain Steve Smith indicated that his triumvirate of pacemen would be reunited alongside one spinner, Nathan Lyon.

“Starc says he’s ready to go,” said Smith. “I’ve told him to make sure he’s completely fit. The break has helped to heal his heel and sometimes you have to take the player’s word. There’s a fair bit of grass out there so we’ll probably opt for one spinner.”

He added that that his side might see more grass in Melbourne next year. Smith’s assessment of the pitch for the fourth Test was similar to that of the ICC, which rated it as poor.

“It was a poor wicket. You’ve got to get the bowlers into the game. So it’s a wake-up call for them”.

Topics

  • Ashes 2017-18

  • The Ashes
  • England cricket team
  • Australia cricket team
  • Cricket
  • Australia sport
  • news

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