England set to give debut to Mason Crane in final Ashes Test

Updated 02 January 2018
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England set to give debut to Mason Crane in final Ashes Test

LONDON: Leg-spinner Mason Crane’s experience playing in Sydney may prove the clincher to earn him a debut as England try to salvage their Ashes series with a win over Australia in final Test.
Trailing 3-0 and with the Ashes well and truly lost, England are considering a possible change for the final Test in Sydney with Moeen Ali’s place under threat and Crane pushing for his first cap.
Moeen has played 48 Tests and went to Australia as one of England’s danger men having scored 252 runs at an average of 36 and taken 25 wickets at an average of 15 against South Africa last summer. However, Down Under he has only taken three wickets and is averaging just 19 with the bat, increasing the likelihood of him being dropped.
The Sydney Cricket Ground has a reputation as a turning wicket, increasing Crane’s chances of playing.
The 20-year-old Hampshire leg-spinner also boasts a five-wicket haul playing at the famous ground for New South Wales last year. Crane, who was impressing in Sydney club cricket, was called up by NSW and took five wickets in the Sheffield Shield victory against South Australia.
“With the series lost it gives us the opportunity to look at some different people,” England’s Australian coach Trevor Bayliss said.
Asked if Crane was ready for Test cricket, Bayliss added: “There’s maybe no time like the present to find out.
“We think he’s a guy that has got the goods and the more he plays at this level the better he will get. You have got to start somewhere.”
England outplayed Australia for large tracts of last week’s fourth Test in Melbourne only for Steve Smith to bat out the entire last day with an unbeaten century for a draw.
England must find a way of shackling the freescoring Smith if they are to get that elusive win.
The Australia skipper has enjoyed a phenomenal series, scoring three centuries — including a Test best 239 in Perth — to amass as many as 604 runs in six innings at an astonishing average of 151.
Smith, who averages 63.55 in his 60 Tests, is now in outright second place for the highest-ever ICC ranking points behind Don Bradman.
“I’m adapting to each of the bowlers, I’m changing my plans to them and how they’re trying to get me out,” the in-form captain said.
“Hopefully I can just keep working and keep getting better as well.”
His opposite number Joe Root said England had to keep believing they can get the brilliant batsman out.
“We just have to keep trying every option if he does get in and if it is a good surface to bat on, and keep trusting and believing in what we do,” Root said.
Pace spearhead Mitchell Starc, who missed the Melbourne Test with a bruised heel, is vying with recalled off-spinner Ashton Agar to likely replace Jackson Bird in the final Australia XI.


Brazil ace Fernandinho credits Dubai break with 'extraordinary' Manchester City victory

Fernandinho recieves words from his coach Pep Guardiola.
Updated 17 min 15 sec ago
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Brazil ace Fernandinho credits Dubai break with 'extraordinary' Manchester City victory

MANCHESTER: Fernandinho has revealed a Dubai break helped him recharge for a performance described by Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola as “extraordinary.”
The Brazilian midfielder’s curling strike capped a superb display in the 5-0 win over Burnley on Saturday that helped keep the champions top of the Premier League.
But Fernandinho believes both he and his team can get even better under the new “special” one.
They face his former club Shakhtar Donetsk in the Champions League on Tuesday and the 33-year-old, who has not played for his country since their disappointing World Cup, says he feels fitter than ever.
“Yes, I don’t know (why),” he added. “When you are out of international duty you can forget just a little bit about football, spend more time with your family and clean your mind and your body. I think it helps a lot.
“I had a rest last week. I’ve been in Dubai for a week. I have had enough time to rest. I am happy because it’s good to be important especially in a (City) team like this with a lot of good and important players and we just need to go for it, to improve and get better all the time.
“It's good to hear something like this (being extraordinary) about you, especially when it comes from Pep. He's a special guy, a special manager and I'm so pleased for that especially after my performance.”
Fernandinho, who joined City from Shakhtar for £30 million ($38 million) in 2013, has been labelled a “key player” by Guardiola, who has had to start him more regularly after missing out on another defensive midfielder in Jorginho.
But the player does not think he is in the best form of his career.
“Not so far, not yet,” he said. “It was good (against Burnley), but I want to improve more, improve some details and get better to help the team.
“Maybe (this squad is stronger than last season). We have conceded less goals I think and that's a good point we have to take. And when we have the chance to play, especially at home, we create a lot of chances to score goals.
“I hope that we can improve more now because we cannot stop. We are just at the beginning of the season, just nine games, we have a long season ahead and I think from now until the end of the season we have to improve and get better and better. Otherwise, there's no point playing for City.”
Fernandinho is excited about a return to Shakhtar, a club where he won six league titles and the UEFA Cup during an eight-year spell.
City are a point behind Lyon in Group F, having lost to the French side at home, and need victory to stay ahead of the Ukrainian champions.
Fernandinho added: “The next two games against them is going to be decisive to see who goes through to the next stage. They are going to be key games for us.
“They have a good team, good players and we have to be careful and try to play the same way we are playing now. Of course it's a different competition, a different way to play from Burnley to Shakhtar. But we have to do what we have to do out on the pitch and try to win that game because it’s going to be very difficult.”