England skipper excited as Crane raises game

Mason Crane in action for England at the Ageas Bowl on Wednesday night. Picture: Neil Marshall

Eoin Morgan has hailed the maturity of Mason Crane in the wake of his impressive England debut.

The Hampshire leg-spinner showed no fear as he rose to the challenge and stifled the threat of superstar batsman AB de Villiers in the nine-wicket win over South Africa at the Ageas Bowl on Wednesday night.

AB is one of the best players of his generation and to do it against him is quite a task, especially when he is trying to get after you

Eoin Morgan

And now the Three Lions skipper is eager to see how Crane copes with the next phase of his international education following his superb NatWest T20 International Series bow.

As opponents begin to recognise the danger posed by the Shoreham-born 20-year-old wrist-spinner, so they will formulate plans to counter him.

And that is when Morgan reckons Crane’s skill will truly be tested.

The England skipper said: ‘Mason handled himself really well. It is a very important part of what we do, how these lads handle things.

‘We know Mason has the potential and the skill – he has proved that at county level.

‘But to be able to reignite his good form in international cricket and have the mindset to stay in the moment and do exactly what he has been doing is very important.

‘It worked for him and they are very good signs. His skills are good. We know that, though. It is delivering them.

‘AB is one of the best players of his generation and to do it against him is quite a task, especially when he is trying to get after you. At no stage did AB manage to get hold of him.

‘The challenge now for Mason is, if he continues to play, how people counter him and, when they do, how he comes back at it. But obviously they are really good signs for a young guy coming into our side.’

Crane, who joined Hampshire’s youth ranks after he was dropped by Sussex at under-14 level, conceded 24 runs in his four overs against the Proteas.

While he did not manage to claim a maiden international wicket, his partnership with Hampshire team-mate Liam Dawson paved the way for the home triumph.

Dawson conceded just 17 runs from his four overs as South Africa edged from 43 for three after six overs to 84 for three after 14.

They finally closed on 143 for three before England hammered their way to victory in just 14.3 overs, with Alex Hales (47 not out) and Jonny Bairstow (60 not out) in destructive mood.

Morgan added: ‘It was as close to a complete performance as you could ask for. I thought the bowlers did an unbelievable job.

‘After taking early wickets, the partnership between AB and (Farhaan) Berhardien was quite significant.

‘During the last two overs from the spinners at both ends – they were in a comfortable position to take the game away from us.

‘But they didn’t really get away. The two spinners held their nerve really well and then they were backed up by the seamers at the end.

‘I thought there was maybe a little more in the pitch when we bowled. It maybe changed a bit but I thought the way we came out and batted dictated things to them a little.

‘As soon as you are 40 without loss after four overs, you are well on your way.’

The three-match NatWest T20 International Series continues at Taunton on Friday before climaxing in Cardiff on Sunday.

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