England captain Joe Root has warned not to expect too much from Mason Crane after the leg-spinner received his first call-up into a Test squad.
The 20-year-old Hampshire rising star was something of a surprise inclusion in a 13-man squad announced Thursday for next week’s first Test against the West Indies at Edgbaston — the first floodlit and pink ball Test to be staged in Britain.
England come into this three-Test campaign on the back of a 3-1 series win over South Africa.
For Crane to play at Edgbaston, it would likely mean England reverting to the two spinner policy they employed early in the South Africa campaign rather than sticking with Moeen Ali — man of the series against the Proteas — as their specialist slow bowler following the Worcestershire all-rounder’s starring role in wins at The Oval and Old Trafford.
But that Crane, who last year became the first overseas player to appear for Australia’s New South Wales in more than 30 years, is in the England Test squad at such a young age, is an enticing prospect.
“It’s exciting as a captain because he is a very talented young cricketer and he’s got a very bright future,” Root said on Friday.
“But it’s important we don’t put too much pressure on him or expect too much from him at such a young age.
“He is fully deserving of the opportunity he’s got in this squad and I’m very excited to see him go about his business. He’s a very confident young man and hopefully he has a lot to offer England.”
Crane has come into the squad at the same time as uncapped Surrey left-hander Mark Stoneman, the latest batsman given a chance in the problem position of Alastair Cook’s opening partner.
If both Crane and Stoneman play against the West Indies, it will mean England have fielded five Test debutants this season, with Tom Westley, Dawid Malan and Toby Roland-Jones all having won their first caps in recent weeks.
England would like to establish a settled side before they defend the Ashes in Australia later this year and Root, speaking at an event for sponsor Vitality insurance, added: “Ideally we’d want to nail it down soon but it’s a great opportunity for players to throw their hands up for what is an exciting winter.
“Mark and Mason fully full deserve their opportunities in the squad and there are three Tests here where they can potentially put a strong case forward for the winter.
“Tom Westley came in and performed well against South Africa on some spicy wickets at the top of the order. It’s great to see guys putting their hands up with strong performances like that and his challenge over the next three games is to drive that forward and make some really big scores.”