SYDNEY: England 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.”
Crane is the first leg-spinner England have selected since Scott Borthwick made his debut, also in the Sydney Test, during the 2013-14 series.
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.
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.”