Mason Crane was inspired to take up cricket by Shane Warne but is hoping to avoid emulating the Australia great as he continues his Test debut at the SCG.
Warne’s part in the famous 2005 Ashes convinced a then eight-year-old Crane that life as an international leg-spinner was an ambition worth having.
As a 20-year-old, England’s latest debutant was able to reflect on an “awesome” experience on his first day as a Test match bowler.
There were no wickets but several near misses as Crane got used to bowling at prolific Australia captain Steve Smith (44no), David Warner (56) and Usman Khawaja – who finished unbeaten on 91 out of the hosts’ 193 for two in reply to 346 all out.
At stumps on day two in this final Ashes Test, Australia were unquestionably better placed.
So far, though, Crane’s figures of 17-0-58-0 are more promising than the one for 150 Warne recorded on his debut against India at the same venue 26 years ago almost to the day.
Warne went on to take a remarkable 708 wickets in a record-breaking career.
Crane, asked whether he knew about the Australian’s tricky debut, said: “I did... [and] I’m hoping for slightly better figures. He turned into a great bowler and I’m sure it was character-building for him.” As for his own first impressions of Test cricket, Crane said: “It was awesome. I was naturally a little bit nervous, but I was also really excited, and I had great fun out there.”
Smith, who passed another mighty milestone when he reached 6,000 Test runs on his home ground, has gorged more than 600 in this series alone. But Crane found the edge of both his and Khawaja’s bats.
“He’s obviously played very well, scored a lot of runs, but he’s only human as well,” he said. “That’s why we play the game... to be bowling at some of the best players in the world.
“There were periods where we had a couple of inside-edges that didn’t quite get to short-leg, or a couple of edges that didn’t quite get to slip.”
England appear to be up against it. But Crane remains optimistic, adding: “He’s got out four times this series.
“I feel like if we can get him out, take two or three, we hope we can get a first-innings lead.”
England had earlier added 113 for their last five wickets in an entertaining morning session which saw Australia fluff two simple catches in the space of five balls.
Pat Cummins finished with four for 80 on his home ground, but was responsible for the first drop – before he then had to watch when Josh Hazlewood put down an even easier one off his bowling, as first Tom Curran and then Moeen Ali escaped.
“It wasn’t great,” said Cummins. “I thought they were going to probably put on 200 after we dropped those two.”
The seventh-wicket pair actually made only another 25 between them, while Hazlewood suffered a little physical as well as mental pain after failing to even lay a hand on his catch at midwicket.
“He’s got a big bruise on his chest,” said Cummins. “Sometimes the easiest ones are actually a bit harder. The ball was spinning, and he was running, and your eyes are bobbling up and down more than standing still – but both were pretty simple chances.”