There are few more daunting places to make your debut than the Sydney Cricket Ground during an Ashes series. To say Mason Crane was thrown in at the deep end would be unfair on the 20-year-old Hampshire leg-spinner. It was more a case of being tossed into the ocean during a violent storm. Despite England being three-nil down in the series and all hope of a successful Ashes series gone, it was still very much a case of sink or swim for Crane.
The sharks were circling the English team ready for one last feed and any new blood like Crane was there for the devouring. To the credit of the debutant, he carried himself with an impressive maturity as he got his Test career off to a slow but ultimately convincing start, despite returning the worst figures of any English debutant.
Crane surpassed Devon Malcolm’s 2/166 against Australia in Nottingham back in 1989, which was previously the worst bowling figures recorded by an English debutant. That is a misleading stat and one that throws the young leggy under the bus after England had been knocked from the ropes and onto the canvas during the lead up to the final Test. The only thing worth taking from the 5th Test would have been his technique and whether or not he looks to be able to cut it in international cricket as the Three Lions were always on a hiding to nothing in Sydney.
Shane Warne was commentating when Crane was introduced into the attack and who better to provide an initial verdict on the leg-spinner. Warne commented that Crane’s action was well balanced and was full of praise for the momentum used in his run-up. ‘He explodes through the crease which is good’ was another of Warne’s compliments and it’s safe to say that the legendary Australian feels there is something to work with after passing the Test in his own eyes.
The Test arena is a good place to start and Crane will have to master his craft there with opportunities in the one-day side limited at present. England have bounced back well and are only 5/2 in the latest cricket odds to return the whitewash they received in the Ashes. The ODI side is settled and performing well, but it is the Test side that could beneft Crane’s continued inclusion.
Since the conclusion of the Ashes in 2013/14 in Australia, England have picked nine specialist spinners including Crane. Retirements and poor performances have seen eight of them not hold down the spinners role and with Crane so young and quite clearly full of talent, England should back him and include him on future Test tours.
Quality leg-spinners are a rarity. England have the makings of one in their ranks and should do what they can to expertly nurture him. That will mean backing him in New Zealand should he go the distance at any stage. Supporting him now will mean England are rewarded handsomely in the future. The selectors will have to stick their necks out for Crane if they want a Test team in the future that has a world class spinner in it.