Cricket

‘Series defeat means England can look at different people’

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Fifth Ashes Test – Australia v England
Venue: Sydney Cricket Ground Date: Thursday, 4 January (Wednesday, 3 January at 23:30 GMT)
Coverage: Ball-by-ball Test Match Special commentary on BBC Radio 5 live sports extra, Radio 4 LW, online, tablets, mobiles and BBC Sport app. Live text commentary on the BBC Sport website.

England have the opportunity to experiment with their side in this week’s final Ashes Test in Australia, says coach Trevor Bayliss.

Trailing 3-0 after four matches, the tourists could make changes in Sydney, with Moeen Ali’s place under threat and Mason Crane pushing for a debut.

“There’s been no decision on the team right now,” said Bayliss.

“With the series lost it gives us the opportunity to look at some different people.”

Crane, a 20-year-old leg-spinner, is on his first tour with the senior squad.

The Hampshire man played club cricket in Sydney last year and impressed enough to be called up by New South Wales, the first overseas player in 32 years to represent the state in the Sheffield Shield.

Asked if Crane, who has played two T20 internationals, is ready for Test cricket, Bayliss said: “There’s maybe no time like the present to find out.

“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 have got to start somewhere.”

All-rounder Moeen, who has played 48 Tests and was the second-fastest England player to do the double of 2,000 Test runs and 100 wickets, has struggled on his first Ashes tour.

The 30-year-old has taken only three wickets with his off-spin and averages 19 with the bat.

“Like any player, you go through highs and lows,” said Bayliss. “At the moment, the number of runs and wickets makes it one of his lows.

“Mo is a free spirit and one or two shots or wickets and he will be off and running. So I’m not concerned long-term.”

Following the Ashes, and after limited-overs matches against Australia and New Zealand, England play two Tests in New Zealand.

England have long struggled to fill gaps in their batting line-up and, on the tour of Australia, the inexperienced members of their top five have had varying degrees of success.

Dawid Malan made his maiden century in the third Test in Perth, while Mark Stoneman and James Vince have both struck two half-centuries.

On the subject of further new faces being included for the Tests in New Zealand, Bayliss said: “We want to see some of the younger guys in England pushing a little harder to get in.

“Liam Livingstone, Joe Clarke and Dan Lawrence have all been mentioned as being the next guys coming through but you need an opportunity to put them in.

“Is this the opportunity? The guys that are here… have they done enough to warrant further selection? Over a period of time you want to see those guys not just putting pressure on, but getting opportunities for the longevity of the team’s success.”

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Prior to the drawn fourth Test in Melbourne, experienced pair Alastair Cook and Stuart Broad had each endured a difficult series.

Cook had managed only 83 runs in six innings, while Broad had just five wickets to his name.

Former captain Cook responded with an unbeaten 244, the highest score by a visiting batsman at the MCG.

He was supported by a half-century from Broad, who also took four wickets in Australia’s first innings.

Bayliss believes 33-year-old Cook and Broad, 31, can both be playing when England attempt to regain the Ashes at home in 2019.

“I think if the desire is still there then why not?” said the Australian. “Certainly from their performances in the last game and what they have done over a number of years, then I can’t see any reason why not – if they keep performing.

“But we also need guys coming in and putting pressure on them as well. Anyone is susceptible to a loss of form and guys on the outside doing well and forcing their way in.”

Courtesy: bbci.co.uk

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