England white-ball skipper Eoin Morgan admits he’d be “surprised” if the T20 World Cup in Australia goes ahead as scheduled later this year.
Legspinner Mason Crane will make his Test debut in Sydney, replacing injured paceman Chris Woakes in England’s XI for the Ashes series finale.
Woakes had scans on Wednesday after complaining of a sore side. England are upbeat he will be fit for the ensuing ODI series but have ruled him out of the fifth Test.
The tourists will present the 20-year-old Crane with a cap on Thursday at the SCG, where he played for NSW during the 2016-17 Sheffield Shield season.
“On this surface he’s going to be a really good option,” Joe Root said.
“It looks like it should give a bit of turn throughout.
“The way he’s conducted himself throughout the whole trip has been outstanding.”
The latest injury setback means out-of-form allrounder Moeen Ali and young paceman Tom Curran have both been retained in the tourists’ team.
Moeen was facing the axe after capturing just three wickets at 135 during the first four Tests.
He has averaged 19.42 with the bat, drawing criticism from English spinning predecessor Graeme Swann and former captain Michael Vaughan in recent days.
Coach Trevor Bayliss hinted Crane would come into the side earlier this week, declaring the series finale was an opportunity to “look at some different people”.
“There’s maybe no time like the present to find out,” Bayliss said, when asked if Crane is ready for Test cricket.
“We think he’s a guy that has got the goods, and the more he plays at this level the better he will get.
“You’ve got to start somewhere.”
Crane made an unexpected Shield appearance against South Australia in Sydney last year, becoming the first overseas player to turn out for the Blues since Imran Khan in 1984-85.
Pat Cummins also played in the match.
“The week training with him, I faced a bit of him in the nets and he bowled really well,” Cummins said.
“He just loves going and bowling and bowling in the nets. That’s the best way, especially for a spinner, to get better.
“In the game, first innings there might have been a few nerves and second innings he bowled quite well and we got a win.”