The old school English cricket view will be that you cannot give young kids a debut at the MCG on Boxing Day in front of 90,000 fans. Some will say it would be too much to expect from Mason Crane or Tom Curran.
But England are 3-0 down. What do they have to lose? I would look at it as a positive. What a place to make your Test debut. If you can perform in front of a massive audience at the MCG then you can do it anywhere.
What you have to do is look at the bigger picture. England’s attack has not been working. They took nine wickets in Perth, ten in Brisbane and only got 18 in Adelaide because Steve Smith decided to bat again.
This is a perfect opportunity to play cricketers who will be around in four years’ time. Some will say it is stupid to think that far ahead. But I am one of those people who likes to plan for the future so why not give a kid a chance, especially Crane because Moeen Ali is having absolutely no effect as a spinner.
I didn’t think Crane was ready last summer, and I doubt if he is now, but the selectors have chosen him for an Ashes tour so with the team 3-0 down, they may as well go the next step.
He is full of energy and excitement. Curran the same. You don’t know how young players will react to Test cricket but what you have are two kids desperate to be out there playing. I would rather have two kids full of energy and positivity than a team full of older hands who have been heavily beaten for three Tests and might be looking forward to going home.
If Crane and Curran were to do well in Melbourne or Sydney, and even if the team loses 5-0, the emergence of some new faces would at least be a positive to take from the tour. Add in performances from Craig Overton, James Vince and Dawid Malan and England have at least found some cricketers for the future from the wreckage of an Ashes hammering.
Sometimes dropping a senior pro can be a serious moment for a team. It sends a message and the atmosphere can change. Its puts people back on their toes. All of a sudden they are not sure of their place in the team. I like consistency of selection but in Test cricket you need that fear of being dropped. Once that goes, the environment becomes comfortable and performances start to plateau.
I suspect Overton will not be fit which gives the chance to play Curran. I doubt if they will drop Stuart Broad but I look at him and ask will he be here in four years time? Probably not. It would ruffle feathers if he was left out. The options are bringing in Crane for Moeen or Broad. It would lengthen the tail but it is not as if Moeen has been performing with the bat anyway.
In these conditions finger spin rarely works unless you give the ball huge amount of revs. Graeme Swann was outstanding in 2010 but the team were making massive scores.
The make up of the England side moving forward in the UK could be to have Crane with Moeen as the second spinner. He clearly has an issue being the no 1 spinner which is why Liam Dawson played last summer.
If that is the case then Moeen has to make himself into a top six batter. He was given the chance here and did not take it.
He has to score consistent runs. He is a wonderful talent, and has a lovely relaxed mind but we saw in India last year and Australia that he has been disappointing as a bowler on the road. He can’t just be a home bird. He has to do it on the road.
Look at Nathan Lyon four years ago. He is a different bowler now. Mo can get better if he is prepared to work at it.
When England spinners used to be compared to Shane Warne it was unreasonable. He was the game’s greatest player. But it is reasonable to compare Moeen to Lyon. Mo’s best ball is a good ball, he just does not bowl it often enough.
In the second innings in Perth Vince showed the right mindset. He has to bottle that up. If necessary write down the thoughts he had before his innings, during his innings and before the ball was bowled. That is his model for the future. He defended well, left good balls and played some lovely shots. It was effortless and it took a really good ball to dismiss him. If he can keep playing that way then a big score is close.
Malan and Vince were both positive in Perth. All our batsmen are better when they are looking to score, including Alastair Cook. When Cook is looking at staying on the crease and defending, he struggles. He too has to try to be attacking.
If Mitchell Starc is not fit then that will massively help England. Starc has so many variations, yorkers, bouncers and reverse swing from round the wicket and over the wicket so he can always surprise a batsman even after a long period at the crease. Jackson Bird is a good replacement but might be rusty having played little cricket recently. It also means Australia will have four right arm over bowlers. It is much easier for a batsman to play himself in against the same bowlers. This is a chance for England.