Ashes flops invest in future with Crane debut in Sydney Test

Sports | 4 Jan 2018

Mason Crane's introduction to Test cricket for the final Ashes clash with Australia is perhaps a sign that England are finally prepared to invest the time it takes to develop a decent leg-spinner, whatever the short-term cost.

At 20, Crane will be the youngest England spinner for 90 years to make a Test debut when he wins his first cap at the Sydney Cricket Ground today in a series that England trail by an irretrievable 3-0.

In the corresponding fixture on the 2013-14 Ashes series, when England were 4-0 down, Scott Borthwick, Boyd Rankin and Gary Ballance were all handed debuts with only the latter going on to play a second Test.

Crane's elevation, after taking 75 wickets at 44 in 29 first class matches, could be seen in the same vein but for captain Joe Root's assertion to the contrary as he plots a win that he thinks is vital to England's success on their next trip Down Under.

"I want us to be the best side in the world ... and it's not going to happen by chucking guys in for the last game of a series," he said. "So it's really important that we do it in a way which, over the next four years, gets us in the best place to perform well here, but throughout that period being as successful as we can be."

The art of spinning the ball away from a right-handed batsman using the fingers and a full flick of the wrist can produce spectacular results but also be difficult to control. It has provided two of the most memorable moments in Ashes cricket - the Eric Hollies googly that bowled Don Bradman and the "Ball of the Century" with which Shane Warne dismissed Mike Gatting in 1993.

It can also be an expensive, though. Warne took one for 150 in his Test debut against India.

While Crane is still not a regular for his county Hampshire, he has already played two T20 internationals. Leg-spinners have to be aggressive and confident and it has been Crane's attitude that has most impressed Root.


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