Chris Tremlett: Ashes finale would be right time to blood rookie leg-spinner Mason Crane

 
Chris Tremlett
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Mason Crane became the first overseas players to play for New South Wales when he represented the state side in last year's Sheffield Shield (Source: Getty)

If England wish to keep going around in circles then they should persevere with Moeen Ali in his current role, but if they want to progress and thrive on the subcontinent and places like Australia then they need a main spinner. Hopefully that will be Mason Crane.

It has been a nightmare tour for Moeen, who has struggled with a finger injury and taken just three wickets while averaging 19 with the bat, but in my eyes he is still a very good player and has a lot to offer in the right conditions.

When the 30-year-old is batting well then he is good enough to operate in the top six or seven and going forward perhaps England need to look at the possibility of him playing as a batsman and second spinner.

We know that is how Moeen sees himself – as a batsman who bowls a bit – and he has shied away from being described as the side’s main spinner, even though in England he has been.

It was always going to be a difficult series for him and he has been shown up by Australia counterpart Nathan Lyon, who has taken 17 English wickets at an average of less than 28. Moeen’s average is 135.

All the talk is of England handing leg-spinner Mason Crane his Test debut in the fifth Test in Sydney, which starts on Wednesday evening, and I think it is the right time to blood the 20-year-old.

Throwing players into the side willy-nilly can be a concern; Scott Borthwick and Boyd Rankin were handed debuts at Sydney during the last tour of Australia and that was almost out of desperation as nobody really wanted to play that last Test.

That does not seem to be the case this time around and it feels an opportune moment for Crane, someone who is held in very high esteem at my former club Hampshire, to show what he can do.

Crane became the first overseas player to represent New South Wales since Imran Khan in 1985 when he played for the state side in last year’s Sheffield Shield, so he will know the wicket and be aware of conditions at the SCG.

Borthwick and Rankin were thrust into a hopeless situation four years ago and were thrown under the bus, but following the fourth Test draw in Melbourne England have salvaged a degree of pride and gained a bit of momentum.

There has been a bit of a stir since Melbourne with questions asked about whether the draw or former skipper Alastair Cook’s double century mean anything given England had already lost the series.

I can see both sides of that particular coin but Test cricket is still difficult regardless of the circumstances and people like Cook and Stuart Broad were under huge amounts of pressure given their lack of form.

Both delivered and that was important. England also did not repeat the mistakes they had made previously, they showed fight and did not roll over and die. There are certainly positives to take forward to Sydney.

If England win or draw the final Test, people will continue to say it is irrelevant because they lost the series and I do agree with that in some respects, but there are simply no positives to take from losing 5-0.

That was the case in 2013-14 but at least this time that fight has been shown and hopefully in the final showdown some of the younger players can make a bit of a name for themselves.

City A.M.'s opinion pages are a place for thought-provoking views and debate. These views are not necessarily shared by City A.M.

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