Mason Crane is in line to make history in Sydney this week, having been included in the New South Wales squad for their Sheffield Shield match against South Australia at the SCG.
The 20-year-old Hampshire legspinner has been called up after impressing on his ECB Overseas Placement, both with the Gordon club in Sydney Grade cricket, and in the nets with New South Wales – where he has been working closely with former Australia leggie Stuart MacGill.
If he makes the final XI, Crane would become NSW’s first overseas player in Australia’s domestic first-class competition since the former Pakistan captain Imran Khan made six appearances in 1984-5.
“It’s a fantastic achievement for Mason,” said Peter Such, the ECB’s lead spin-bowling coach who also supervises the Overseas Placement scheme, a key part of the International Pathway.
“Australian State teams don’t pick overseas players lightly, especially New South Wales, as their record shows."
“Australian State teams don’t pick overseas players lightly, especially New South Wales, as their record shows.
“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.
“He has come through our spin programme funded by the Brian Johnston Memorial Trust, and played at home and overseas for England Under-19s, and after a full season in county cricket with Hampshire, we thought an Overseas Placement would be ideal for his development.
“He has excelled in Grade cricket for Gordon, taking a seven-wicket haul in three consecutive games to make him comfortably the leading wicket-taker in the competition."
“He has excelled in Grade cricket for Gordon, taking a seven-wicket haul in three consecutive games to make him comfortably the leading wicket-taker in the competition.
“But both he and Matthew Critchley, another talented young leg-spinner from Derbyshire, have also had the opportunity to work regularly with Stuart MacGill, and to work on a reasonably regular basis with the New South Wales squad in practice.
“When you add the personal development these young players receive from having to make their own way in a pretty tough cricketing environment, we feel the Overseas Placements are a vital part of the Pathway. And for Mason to be in contention to play Sheffield Shield cricket is the icing on the cake.”
This week’s game is important for both New South Wales and South Australia, who are fourth and second respectively in a congested Shield table, and battling to stay in touch with champions Victoria with only two rounds of fixtures remaining.
Crane will be unavailable for the last round of matches next week because his white-ball skills have earned him selection in the South squad for the new North-South Series in Dubai and Abu Dhabi.
He joins some familiar names in the New South Wales team, which is captained by former Surrey all-rounder Moises Henriques and also includes Ed Cowan, Doug Bollinger, Trent Copeland and Pat Cummins – the Australia fast bowler who is in contention to make his first Shield appearance for six years.