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Crane lifts Aussie crowds with villain act

England's debutant leg-spinner's stop-start approach draws ire of Australia crowds on third day

Debutant Mason Crane may be the latest Magellan Ashes pantomime villain after the leg-spinner’s repeated false starts drew booming boos from the SCG crowd on day two of the fifth Test.

Crane aborted his delivery numerous times during the Test match and consecutive withdrawals in the 137th over evoked howls of displeasure from the 43,170 in attendance.

The crowd cheered the 20-year-old in for the hat-trick ball but it was to no avail as he safely landed the delivery on a Sydney surface that is spinning prodigiously.

Another pair of withdrawn deliveries followed 10 overs later, except this time the one that finally landed was spanked to the cover boundary by in-form allrounder Mitchell Marsh.

Speaking after play on Friday, Crane explained why he pulled out of delivery the ball on so many occasions.

“If something doesn’t feel quite right when I’m running in, the ball doesn’t feel quite right or one of the steps I take, I try and stop myself rather than bowl a ball I know wouldn’t be as good as I can give,” Crane said.

Arriving to the crease was just one of Crane’s issues on Saturday.

The leggie thought he had his first Test wicket when century-maker Usman Khawaja shouldered arms to a ball bowled around the wicket that the England camp believed was going on to hit the stumps.

England fume as tight call costs Crane debut wicket

After a moment of deliberation captain Joe Root called for a review, but before ball tracking technology could be employed, replays showed Crane overstepping by the narrowest of margins.

Clearly frustrated, England players queried the decision with the on-field umpire before the angst went up a level when ball tracking confirmed the ball was going to hit the top of middle stump.

The youngster has, at least for this Test, taken the bulk of the attention of the parochial Australian crowd and in particular off tour public enemy No.1, Stuart Broad.

Broad has been in the sights of Australian audiences even since he landed on these shores in 2013 after he infamously chose not to walk after edging a catch to Michael Clarke at first slip in the opening Test of the preceding Ashes series at Trent Bridge in England.

The England spearhead, who is one wicket away from 400 Test victims, was publicly targeted during the 2013-14 Ashes, with one Queensland paper choosing not to recognise the veteran by his name in their publication.

The boos continued this tour, but for the final days of the campaign it appears as though Crane might have taken the spotlight.

It wasn’t all bad news for Crane, who eventually secured his maiden Test wicket with his 184th legal delivery, having Khawaja stumped for 171.  

2017-18 International Fixtures

Magellan Ashes Series

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

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 Australia won by 120 runs (Day-Night). Scorecard

Third Test Australia won by an innings and 41 runs. Scorecard

Fourth Test Match drawn. Tickets

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

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

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

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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