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Mason builds case to spin for injured Moeen

England captain Joe Root floats possibility debutant leg-spinner Mason Crane could play in Adelaide with Moeen Ali's finger injury making him uncertain to bowl

Moeen Ali's finger injury could lead to leg-spinner Mason Crane being handed a shock debut in the second Magellan Ashes Test at the Adelaide Oval.

Moeen sustained a cut to his index finger, the digit used to impart spin, on his right hand in the first Test in Brisbane and has not bowled since arriving in Adelaide.

England will wait until the 11th hour for Moeen to prove his fitness but if he's unable to bowl in Adelaide then he is likely to hold his spot as a batsman while Crane could be called in to fill the spin-bowling void.

"We'll have to look at the situation with Moeen and see how bad it is, look at the conditions, but it's definitely not out of the questions," England captain Joe Root told reporters today when asked if Crane would play if Moeen couldn't bowl.

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"With Moeen's finger, I think the decision was to give it an extra day of trying to rest it and make sure it's as ready as it can be.

"We'll have another look at things after practice and see how he is then and see if there's any more damage to it and we'll have to make a decision from there.

"It would be wrong to look too closely into it without knowing the full details.

"At the end of practice we'll have a clear indication of whether he'll be fit to bowl throughout the next game.

"His batting has been a huge part of our team for a long period of time now. I think he would still play as a batter."

Should Moeen be found unfit to bowl, Crane would likely come in for paceman Jake Ball, who returned figures of 1-115 from 26 overs in Brisbane.

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Crane captured 16 first-class wickets at 44.68 for Hampshire in the County Championship this season and got his first taste of international cricket against South Africa in two T20Is in June.

In three tour matches prior to the first Test, Crane collected seven wickets at 52.28 but was unlucky not to take more wickets as several catches were put down off his bowling.

And he was the first overseas player in 30 years to play for NSW when he made his JLT Sheffield Shield debut in March this year alongside Ashes adversary Patrick Cummins.

If Crane does make his debut it would be the second straight year a wrist-spinner is blooded in the twilight Test in Adelaide.

Last summer South Africa's left-arm wrist-spinner Tabraiz Shamsi debuted under floodlights in the first match of the 'new era' of Australian cricket following the cleanout of the Hobart Test.

While day-night Test match conditions – grassy pitch, cool weather, playing at night – have favoured the seamers, it's the pink ball that might give Crane the selection edge.


Speaking on this week's episode of The Unplayable Podcast, former Australia batsman Mike Hussey said the seam on the pink ball is hard to spot and makes picking which way the ball is spinning incredibly difficult.

"An interesting one that may come into consideration is Mason Crane the leg-spinner," Hussey said.

"The reason why I say that is the pink ball, it's sometimes difficult to see the seam of the ball.

"What JLT Sheffield Shield players who have played in the day-night Shield games have said, it's really hard to pick the leggies and the wrong'uns because you can't really see the seam.

"I wonder if England might consider just bringing in the wrist-spinner for that exact reason.

"I'm not expecting the pitch to turn a great deal but causing a few worries to the Aussies batsmen, in not being able to pick the wrist-spinner, might come into play.

"If you remember last year South Africa came in and played an extra spinner and it was a wristy (left-armer Tabraiz Shamsi) as well.

"It might be a smokey but I wouldn't be surprised if England went down that path."

2017-18 International Fixtures

Magellan Ashes Series

Australia Test squad: Steve Smith (c), David Warner (vc), Cameron Bancroft, Usman Khawaja, Peter Handscomb, Shaun Marsh, Tim Paine (wk), Mitchell Starc, Pat Cummins, Nathan Lyon, Josh Hazlewood, Jackson Bird, Chadd Sayers.

England Test squad: Joe Root (c), James Anderson (vc), Moeen Ali, Jonny Bairstow, Jake Ball, Gary Ballance, Stuart Broad, Alastair Cook, Mason Crane, Tom Curran, Ben Foakes, Dawid Malan, Craig Overton, Ben Stokes, Mark Stoneman, James Vince, Chris Woakes.

First Test Australia won by 10 wickets. Scorecard

Second Test Adelaide Oval, December 2-6 (Day-Night). Tickets

Third Test WACA Ground, December 14-18. Tickets

Fourth Test MCG, December 26-30. Tickets

Fifth Test SCG, January 4-8 (Pink Test). Tickets

Gillette ODI Series v England

First ODI MCG, January 14. Tickets

Second ODI Gabba, January 19. Tickets

Third ODI SCG, January 21. Tickets

Fourth ODI Adelaide Oval, January 26. Tickets

Fifth ODI Perth Stadium, January 28. Tickets

Prime Minister's XI

PM's XI v England Manuka Oval, February 2. Tickets

Gillette T20 trans-Tasman Tri-Series

First T20I Australia v NZ, SCG, February 3. Tickets

Second T20I – Australia v England, Blundstone Arena, February 7. Tickets

Third T20I – Australia v England, MCG, February 10. Tickets

Fourth T20I – NZ v England, Wellington, February 14

Fifth T20I – NZ v Australia, Eden Park, February 16

Sixth T20I – NZ v England, Seddon Park, February 18

Final – TBC, Eden Park, February 21