Tue01162018

LAST_UPDATETue, 16 Jan 2018 6pm

Ashes: England's Mason Crane Set For Debut As Chris Woakes Misses Out

Pic: Getty ImagesPic: Getty ImagesEngland will give a debut to leg-spinner Mason Crane in the fifth Ashes Test, with pace bowler Chris Woakes missing out because of a side strain.

Hampshire's Crane, 20, will become the youngest specialist spinner to play for England in 90 years at the Sydney Cricket Ground.

All-rounder Moeen Ali keeps his place as the tourists opt for two spinners.

"It looks like it will give a lot of spin throughout the game," captain Joe Root told BBC Sport.

"It should give a hint of turn and hopefully Mason comes into the game in both innings."

Crane, who has played two Twenty20 internationals, is on his first tour with the senior squad.

"He's very excited, as you would be," added Root. "It's great to see someone so desperate to play for England. It's a great place for him to start his career.

"He's a serious competitor and has a really good mental game for Test cricket - he proved that when he played the T20s last year.

"Hopefully it can be the start of a long, illustrious career."

Woakes has a problem with his left side, the same area that caused him to miss more than two months of cricket in the home summer.

However, this new injury is thought to be very minor and he is expected to fit for the five one-day internationals which follow the Test series.

Australia, who have already secured the Ashes, have pace bowler Mitchell Starc fit again following a bruised heel, with Jackson Bird making way.

The Sydney match is the traditional 'Pink Test', now in its 10th year of raising money for breast cancer charity the McGrath Foundation, founded by former Australia pace bowler Glenn McGrath in memory of his late wife Jane.

Who is Mason Crane?

At 20 years and 320 days, Crane will become England's youngest specialist spinner since Ian Peebles played against South Africa in 1928.

Born in Sussex, he failed to progress through the county's junior system and was sent to Hampshire by their former spinner Raj Maru, a teacher at his school.

Crane made his Hampshire debut in 2015 as an 18-year-old - his first wicket was Kumar Sangakkara - and has since played 29 first-class matches, taking 75 wickets at an average of almost 44.

Last winter, he played grade cricket for Sydney club Gordon. His 45 wickets not only earned him a share of the O'Reilly Medal for the best player in the competition, but also a call-up to the New South Wales team, the first overseas player to represent the state since Pakistan great Imran Khan in 1984-85.

"As a young player it was one of the best things I could do," said Crane in December. "I was away from home for six months on my own. I had to learn all sorts of stuff.

"It's brilliant to play with different players. I'd encourage any young player to come out."

Moeen keeps his place

Moeen, 30, has endured a difficult first Ashes tour - the off-spinner has taken only three wickets and averages 19 with the bat.

However, Root said that the Worcestershire man has not kept his place for the final Test simply because Woakes is injured, rather that the conditions have necessitated two spinners.

"Once we got here and we saw the surface that was a clear indication of the sort of team we wanted," said the Yorkshire batsman.

"You turn up and assess the conditions and this side gives us the best chance of taking 20 wickets."

And the skipper backed Moeen, the second-fastest England player to do the double of 2,000 runs and 100 wickets, to return to form.

"He has had a tough couple of games but you don't just lose the ability he has overnight," said Root.

"I am fully confident on this surface and throughout this week he can put in some valuable performances for the side.

"My message to him has been to relax and try and enjoy his cricket. He is at his best when he is having fun."

England aim to end on a high

England lost the first three Tests to surrender the Ashes at the earliest possible opportunity.

Although they drew the fourth Test in Melbourne to avoid a second successive whitewash in Australia, the tourists have not been victorious in nine matches down under or 10 games anywhere away from home.

Fail to win in Sydney and, by the next time they travel to Australia in 2021-22, England will have gone more than a decade without an away Ashes success.

"It would be massive to get a win here, you always want to finish a trip strongly," said Root.

"We've played some good stuff throughout [the series], the last game in particular. It would be a fitting way to finish what has been quite a tough tour."

- BBC