SYDNEY: All-rounder Chris Woakes has been ruled out with a side strain opening the way for young leg-spinner Mason Crane to make his debut for England in Thursday’s final Ashes Test against Australia.
England skipper Joe Root confirmed 20-year-old Crane will play following the injury set-back to Woakes.
Woakes had scans on his injured left side on Wednesday and was ruled out of the Sydney Test as the tourists seek to win their first Test win of the series.
The Warwickshire paceman missed a significant part of England’s home season after straining his side during last year’s Champions Trophy and pulled up sore after last week’s fourth Melbourne Test.
Woakes has taken 10 wickets at 49.5 in the four Tests and scored just 114 runs through seven innings batting number eight at an average of 16.28.
But he is a key member of England’s limited overs sides — and with both a ODI series and a T20I tri-series to follow over the next month, England are not prepared to risk him.
“More than anything it’s making sure he’s not out for a significant period of time like he was throughout the summer,” Root told reporters on Wednesday. “It gives him another week to get himself right and hopefully that’s the case and he’s fit and ready to go when those games come around.”
Crane, who has made two T20Is appearances, comes into the Test having taken five wickets for New South Wales at the SCG last year while playing Sydney club cricket.
“The way he went about those Twenty20s shows he is right up for international cricket and he’s not someone that is going to back down from any challenge,” said Root. “He’s performed very well when he’s had his opportunities on this trip.”
England coach Trevor Bayliss this week indicated Crane was in line to debut when he told reporters: “There’s maybe no time like the present to find out. We think he’s a guy that has got the goods, and the more he plays at this level the better he will get. You’ve got to start somewhere.”
The injury to Woakes is likely to give the out-of-sorts Moeen Ali another chance.
Moeen has played 48 Tests and came to Australia as an accomplished all-rounder but he has under-performed, taking only three wickets and averaging 19 with the bat.