Mason Crane will be undaunted if he makes his Test debut in front of a 90,000-plus crowd at the MCG on Boxing Day.
The 20-year-old will become one of England’s youngest ever Test spinners if he is given the nod in what may well turn out to be a straight battle between him and uncapped seamer Tom Curran.
It appears unlikely at this stage that England will risk jeopardising Craig Overton’s short-term future by asking him to play with a cracked rib, while Jake Ball was dropped after his tough match in the Ashes opener in Brisbane last month.
Crane’s prospects are perhaps further enhanced by the poor form of England’s frontline spinner Moeen Ali – sure to retain his place as an all-rounder, despite his mediocre returns in that discipline too of late.
Leg-spinner Crane could be forgiven having a little trepidation as well as excitement at the impending possibility of making his debut in the cavernous backyard of the all-time master of his art, Australia and Victoria great Shane Warne.
But, he is betraying none of that, and said: “If I’m called upon it will be great. That’s what I’m here for.
“It will be awesome if I do get the chance to play … I’ve been ready for every game, so I’m feeling confident.”
England have already lost the Ashes, with Australia amassing a 3-0 lead in the series with two to play.
Crane is returning to Australia after his successful winter a year ago, when he made such an impression as a teenager in Grade cricket in Sydney that he graduated to play in a crucial Sheffield Shield match for New South Wales. He has figured in all England’s tour matches this time, but none of the Tests.
“It’s been frustrating I can’t contribute directly in the game, and obviously it was heart-breaking that we’ve lost the series already,” he added.
“But these next two games are actually a really good opportunity to show what we are about, and we can compete.”
Asked if the premature loss of the urn makes his debut more likely, he said: “Perhaps, yes. But even if it was a series decider, and I was called upon, I’d be confident I could do a job.”
Should he cap his maiden tour with his first Test appearance, it will be a higher-profile repeat of what happened to him 12 months ago.
“I don’t think I ever dreamed I could play for New South Wales,” he said. “It was an honour I could never have imagined.
“I think Australian pitches helped me – I really enjoy bowling on them, with a bit of extra bounce that you don’t really get at home.”
Crane has flown under the radar this time, with attention focused on England’s more established players – but is primed to make a name for himself if granted the chance.
“Coming back, I haven’t really had much (of a reception). I guess there’s a lot bigger guys, with bigger reputations, in the squad – so they tend to get the limelight.
“(But) every game, I’ve been really excited if I were to get the go – and I’ve been ready to play every one.
“I hope in these next two there’s a spot for me somewhere.”
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