Tom Curran to debut for Poms on Boxing Day

Dec 25, 2017 - 12:35 AM England paceman Tom Curran will make his Test debut at the MCG, where Joe Root has offered a staunch defence of his captaincy in response to stinging criticism from Ricky Ponting.

The visitors have made one forced change to their XI. Craig Overton hasn't recovered from a cracked rib and will miss the fourth Ashes Test.

Curran, uncapped legspinner Mason Crane, first-Test flop Jake Ball and 2015 Ashes winner Mark Wood were all in the mix to receive a call-up.

Root made a captain's call, backing the South-African born seamer to rattle Australia on a flat pitch.

"Sometimes as a captain you have to go with your gut," Root said.

"It was a close call. He's obviously worked extremely hard, as has everyone else."

The tourists only have pride to play for in the five-Test series, having already handed over the urn.

Root has copped the brunt of the criticism, with former Australia skipper Ponting calling him a soft leader who looked like a "little boy" in the press conference that followed a crushing loss in Perth.

"He's entitled to his opinion but he doesn't spend any time in our dressing room and doesn't spend much time around the squad," Root said.

"I'm obviously going to disagree with that. I'm sure if you ask any of the guys in the camp - the coaches, support staff or players - they'd back me up.

"I don't think I go about things as a little boy.

"I have my own way of doing things. It's important you don't try to be something you're not, but I know there are occasions when you might have to be quite strong in front of the group.

"There are times when I know I can do that and I have done that."

Root described Curran as a "character".

"He's a real competitor ... you know you're always going to get absolutely everything out of him," he said.

Root suggested Wood, who isn't officially part of the squad but has remained in Australia after England A's tour, isn't 100 per cent fit yet and his selection could have been a risk.

Crane, who impressed so much in Sydney grade cricket last summer when he played for NSW in the Sheffield Shield, could yet make his Test debut at the SCG.

"It might be if it does offer spin further down the line, we might have to look at it then," Root said.

"He's been very impressive. He's very close to playing."

Source: AAP

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