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.


Manchester United inflict more semifinal misery on sorry Spurs

Updated 23 min 10 sec ago
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Manchester United inflict more semifinal misery on sorry Spurs

  • Manchester United come from behind to make FA Cup final.
  • Mauricio Pochettino yet to win a trophy as manager.

A third cup final with Manchester United for Jose Mourinho. More FA Cup semifinal misery for Tottenham.
While Mauricio Pochettino wins admiration for his style of football, the manager has yet to actually win a trophy in management.
A 2-1 collapse to United at Wembley Stadium on Saturday left Tottenham reeling from an eighth successive loss in the FA Cup semifinals.
Pochettino is responsible for two of the setbacks, having also fallen short against Chelsea last season.
At the stadium where Tottenham have been playing their home matches this season, Dele Alli's goal gave the 1991 FA Cup winners hope of turning around their miserable record in world football's oldest knockout competition.
But Alexis Sanchez leveled in the 24th minute and Ander Herrera struck the winner in the second half. It ensured Mourinho, who won the League Cup and Europa League in his first season at United, has a chance to also end this campaign with silverware against Chelsea or Southampton in the FA Cup final.
"We're getting used to being in finals," Herrera said. "This club is all about titles and finals."
While Mourinho has fallen short in the English Premier League behind newly crowned champion Manchester City, United are second and on course for their highest finish since Alex Ferguson retired in 2013.
Tottenham would settle with holding onto fourth place to secure a third season in a row in the Champions League.
Liverpool missed a chance to considerably stretch its advantage over Tottenham in one of Saturday's two league games. Juergen Klopp's side threw away a two-goal lead to draw with last-place West Bromwich Albion 2-2 and move only three points ahead of Tottenham.
Chelsea, who plays Southampton in the other FA Cup semifinal on Sunday, are five points behind Tottenham with four games remaining.

POGBA TRANSFORMED
When United fell behind to Tottenham, Paul Pogba was culpable.
A high ball was launched forward by Tottenham, a lethargic Pogba didn't try to break sweat in an attempt to prevent it reaching Eriksen. It allowed the Dane to whip in a cross for Alli to slide onto at the far post and strike past David De Gea in 11th minute
Had Harry Kane made a connection at the far post with Son Heung-min's cross three minutes later, Tottenham might have extended their lead.
Instead, United were able to draw level. Pogba made amends for his earlier inertia by dispossessing Mousa Dembele and delivering a cross that Sanchez headed past static goalkeeper Michel Vorm.
Sanchez did the hard work to create the winner in the 62nd, holding off Kieran Trippier and rolling the ball into the penalty area where Jesse Lingard teed up Herrera to shoot past Vorm.