Sheffield Shield 2016-17 March 6, 2017

Crane follows Imran Khan with New South Wales debut

ESPNcricinfo staff

Mason Crane has moved from Sydney grade cricket to the New South Wales XI © Getty Images

Mason Crane, the Hampshire legspinner, has become the first overseas cricketer to play for New South Wales in more than 30 years after being handed his debut against South Australia.

There was some thought that damp weather in Sydney would hamper his chances of being named in the XI, but on Tuesday morning he was handed his NSW cap by former Australia legspinner Stuart MacGill, who Crane has worked closely with during his stint playing grade cricket for Gordon where he caught the eye of NSW selectors.

At the end of a rain-affected first day, Crane had his first Shield wicket. Despite only bowling five overs, he had Tom Cooper caught trying to clear the infield as South Australia stuttered to 5 for 169.

His spell in Australia had been arranged through the ECB's overseas placement scheme with help from Hampshire team-mate Will Smith, a previous Gordon player, and 20-year-old Crane is the first overseas player for NSW since Imran Khan in 1984-85.

"Australian State teams don't pick overseas players lightly, especially New South Wales, as their record shows," Peter Such, the ECB's leading spin-bowling coach, said. "So to force his way in through weight of wickets, and also the impression he has made in their practice sessions, is a tribute both to his ability and the hard work he has put in.

Speaking to ESPNcricinfo last month, Crane highlighted his time with MacGill - "there can't be many better blokes to talk about that with" - and said the volume of overs he had bowled had been ideal for him.

"I've bowled nearly 500 match overs out here, and there's really no substitute for that," he said. "I'll leave here very cricket-fit, and in great rhythm."

Ahead of his NSW debut, Crane had 45 first-class wickets at 40.75.

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Sam on March 10, 2017, 6:08 GMT

    An Aussie grade spinner should have been picked. What's the point of developing an English spinner ? Good for Mason Crane though !

  • David on March 7, 2017, 23:37 GMT

    Oh, and by the way, talking of Imran playing for NSW. If you look up the scorecard the day Dutchy Holland took 9 wickets you will see Hookes c Imran b Holland. Imran was renowned for his batting and bowling, but that was the greatest outfield catch I have seen live in 55 years of cricket playing and watching. Poor old Hookesy - would've been six with the current boundaries.

  • David on March 7, 2017, 23:30 GMT

    Ken the male model, great screen name, I'm sure you're gorgeous. I asked about Somerville a couple of games back - apparently he's Oz qualified, he'd become a foreign player again if NZ picked him. Same as me, I have both Australian and NZ qualifications from my parents - unfortunately I cannot, to quote Fred Trueman, bowl a hoop down a hill in a hurricane. I have no trouble with Crane playing for NSW - he has been picked as the best spinner this year in Sydney grade cricket, which is as it should be.

  • brad on March 7, 2017, 21:40 GMT

    I can't believe they picked him when there are 2 better young legspinners in Sydney Grade cricket in Devlin Malone and Daniel Fallins

  • Nandan on March 7, 2017, 17:13 GMT

    Very nice.Keep the good work going.Let not others influence ur action.Seek advice only from McGill. Hope some English players also play Ranji Trophy in India to overcome spin problems.

  • Olivier on March 7, 2017, 6:43 GMT

    He's simply there as both O'Keefe would usually be there to partner Somerville on a turning pitch and as both he and Lyon are away they want someone with FC experience, (even if this guy is mediocre and averages 40 with the ball) Honestly, guy while young and talented needs to be better than that to play AUS FC cricket. Especially so when his county side, Hampshire was supposed to be relegated but was only saved by ECB and their penchant to beat up the poor. I would've just played Arjun Nair who is even younger and arguably going to do the same job with the ball but can also hold a bat. Good luck to him though and if he can learn how to flight and drift a ball anything like MacGill he should find himself in England colours fairly quickly but as of now England will stick to good part timers like Moeen, Ansari and Dawson since they can bat a little and play overrated Rashid since he can also bat. Real spinners like Leach, Rayner and Crane will be ignored until they average 30 with bat.

  • mudgie8429451 on March 7, 2017, 6:19 GMT

    Is Will Somerville not an overseas player? He's still listed under New Zealand in his cricinfo profile?

  • Sudip on March 7, 2017, 5:25 GMT

    Clearly England should be fast tracking players who make an impression down under ,, and Stuart McGill is the perfect mentor for Crane . If Mason doesn't breakthrough the international ranks after hopefully proving his credentials in Australia of places, then there is something grossly wrong with our selectors .

  • John on March 7, 2017, 1:59 GMT

    As an England fan who lives in Sydney, I can't say I'm upset by this. Given that Australian conditions tend to suit leg-spinners more than off-spinners, Crane could well be playing back at the SCG against Australia at some point. I doubt that it will happen in the next Ashes in Australia but quite possibly the one after that.

  • Craig on March 7, 2017, 0:52 GMT

    Blues selectors must rate Crane as he is their first overseas player since 1985. He also replaces an outstanding teenage prospect in Arjun Nair.

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