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.