New Zealand v England: Mason Crane out of Tests with back injury


Auckland:Leg-spinner Mason Crane will miss England’s Test tour of New Zealand because of a back injury.

The 21-year-old, who made his Test debut in Sydney against Australia in January, has a stress fracture in his lower back and will return to England.

He has been replaced in the squad by Somerset left-arm spinner Jack Leach, who took 8-110 for the England Lions against the West Indies A in February.

The two-Test series begins in Auckland on 22 March.

Hampshire’s Crane finished with figures of 1-193 on his Test debut in Sydney.

He had been named in the squad for England’s first tour match against a New Zealand XI, which began on Wednesday, but did not play.

Pace bowler James Anderson, who struggled with a stress fracture early in his international career, said he felt for Crane.

“I’ve been there myself. Mason has got got a good head on his shoulders and I’m sure he’ll come back strong,” Anderson told BBC Sport.

“What is unfortunate for someone is a bit of fortune or someone else. It’s a good opportunity for Jack.”

Leach had been close to a first senior call-up in 2016 when England travelled to India, but he was not considered because of concerns over his bowling action.

He underwent remedial work and went on to take 51 wickets in the County Championship in 2017.

He has taken 116 wickets for Somerset in the last two Championship seasons – the most of any Division One spinner – and also impressed on the recent Lions tour.

His figures against West Indies A in Jamaica were the best by an England Lions spinner, surpassing Graeme Swann’s 8-156 against Zimbabwe in 1999.

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