KP says England must axe Ball for Crane

Test great calls for changes after tourists’ heavy defeat at the Gabba

Former England captain Kevin Pietersen has called for the tourists to swing the axe, saying paceman Jake Ball is simply not up to Ashes standard.

Pietersen was unimpressed with Ball's efforts at the Gabba, where Australia were challenged early but eventually cruised to a 10-wicket win in the Magellan Ashes series opener.

The retired batsman believes uncapped leg-spinner Mason Crane should debut in the day-night Test that starts in Adelaide on Saturday, especially given Moeen Ali's spinning finger is injured.

Test wrap: Gabba fortress holds firm for Aussies

"I wouldn't play Ball in the next Test match, absolutely not. Absolutely no chance," Pietersen told BT Sport.

"Is Jake Ball any good? I don't think so. Not at this level. Not in Australia, from what I've just seen.

"Mason Crane I'd play. I know it's under lights but it gives that variation of a legspin bowler. One spinning away, one spinning in.

"Moeen Ali, we've got an issue with his finger. Do you want Joe Root bowling all the overs? No."

Warner crushes unbeaten 87 to bury England

Crane, the 20-year-old who played a game for NSW in 2016-17 after dominating Sydney grade cricket, is being mentored by Stuart MacGill.

The tweaker is highly rated by coach Trevor Bayliss so it would not be a complete shock if he is given a chance to shine at some point of the tour.

"I wouldn't have any problems at all playing Crane in the Test," Bayliss said earlier this month.

"He's young, but he's feisty and likes to get into the contest.

The best moments from the Gabba Test

"He's inexperienced and still has a fair bit to learn.

"He's got to start somewhere and if it's here during the Ashes then so be it."

We need to eliminate distractions: Bayliss

Former skipper Michael Atherton sensed the visitors would ponder dropping Ball, who injured his ankle earlier this month and played the first Test after passing a last-minute fitness test.

"What options are open to England in Adelaide? Not many. None of the players who missed the Gabba would have made any difference," Atherton wrote in The Times.

"Jake Ball, ineffective throughout, may lose his place to Craig Overton, but that is the only change England will consider."

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