by Mike Vimpany

TEENAGE Hampshire prospect Mason Crane is fast creating an all-rounder niche for himself in Australia.

The 19-year old leg spinner took his Sydney wicket haul to 39 at the weekend - 22 of his victims have come in the First Grade arena - and also hit back-to-back fifties.

Crane produced a man-of-the-match performance for his adopted Australian club Gordon against Parrammatta, hitting an innings-defining 51 before celebrating his first five-wicket return to lead his side to a 22-run victory in the New South Wales Premiership.

Then, in the NSW Under-21 Shield, Crane hit another half-century, but on this occasion finished a loser against Sydney University, who posted a match-winning 270 off 50 overs.

Playing their first match since the festive break, Gordon slumped to 103-6 before Crane arrived at the crease to strike a run-a-ball 51 containing six boundaries.

He was eventually last man out, having led the Gordon recovery to 217 all out.

Crane bowled a loose opening five overs, but bounced back with two wickets in three deliveries to reduce Parrammatta to 91-5, from which they too rallied and looked favourites to win at 172-5.

But Crane returned to bowl the ‘death’ overs at the end of the innings and took three more wickets to finish with 5-66 - and the MVP award.

Crane is certainly enjoying his first winter abroad and according to club coach Trevor Chappell, the former Australia Test and one-day international cricketer, has “fitted in a treat” at Gordon.

“He’s got a bubbly, infectious enthusiasm and a real determination to succeed,” Chappell said.

“Mason gives it everything in training and on the pitch and has already illustrated to us why he’s rated so highly in England. I fancy we’ll hear a lot more of him.”

The 22 wickets he has taken in the First Grade (arguably Australia’s top club competition) has put Crane fifth in the overall NSW bowling charts.

But, delighted as he is with his 39-wicket haul in all competitions, Crane revealed he is putting a lot of emphasis on developing his batting.

“It’s an area of my game I need to improve on. I wasn’t a bad bat in my schoolboy days, scoring eight centuries at various age group levels at Lancing College, but I’m playing professionally now and need to contribute more,” he admitted.

“We’ve got a few batting coaches at Gordon and I’ve been working hard in the nets with them.

“Before Christmas, I posted a 69 against Manley and made 80 in a record century last wicket partnership off the Sydney University attack.

“To get fifties in both games at the weekend was very pleasing.

“I need to replicate this form when I go back to Hampshire and hopefully push up for a regular place and contribute more to the team.”

Crane reckons that his first trip abroad has also helped his overall personal development.

“I’ve been on relatively short England tours in the past, but coming to Australia under my own steam has really helped me grow up.

“I didn’t know anyone when I arrived here in October, but Gordon [where the legendary Victor Trumper played his cricket] is a terrific club and they’ve really made me feel at home.

“Hopefully, I’m repaying them on the field.”

Crane will remain in Sydney until early March before flying home - and then heading off to the UAE to play in the England Lions’ North-South matches in Dubai.

“Unfortunately, I’ll miss Hampshire’s pre-season tour to Barbados, but returning to the Emirates will be another fantastic opportunity for me,” he added.