When exciting young leg-spinner Mason Crane makes his Test debut for England at the SCG on Thursday he will become tenth player from this Ashes series to hone his skills in McDonald’s NSW Premier Cricket.
He will also be one of two Englishmen with Mark Stoneham, 30, to have played NSW Premier Cricket.
The select group also includes the six NSW Blues in Australia’s Ashes squad, captain Steve Smith, vice-captain David Warner, Mitchell Starc, Josh Hazlewood, Pat Cummins and Nathan Lyon, along with Usman Khawaja and Manly boy Jackson Bird.
Crane, 20, dominated Premier Cricket last season, taking 51 First Grade wickets at an average of 21.06 with best figures of 7-53 and was named Player of the Match on four occasions. He tied with Gordon team mate Elliot Richtor for the O’Reilly Medal, awarded to the First Grade Player of the Year.
When Crane made his Sheffield Shield debut for the Blues against South Australia at the SCG in March, the Hampshire leg-spinner became the first overseas cricketer to play for NSW since Imran Khan in 1984-85.
Crane took five wickets for the match in a one-off appearance.
He was handed his NSW cap by former Australia leg-spinner Stuart MacGill, who worked closely with the Englishman last summer.
"I've bowled nearly 500 match overs out here, and there's really no substitute for that," Crane said at the end of his stint with Gordon. "I'll leave here very cricket-fit, and in great rhythm."
Despite this Hampshire left Crane languishing in their Second XI at the start of the English County season.
England captain Joe Root confirmed that Crane would play in the fifth Test of a series Australia lead 3-0.
"On this surface he's going to be a really good option," Root said.
"It looks like it should give a bit of turn throughout.
"The way he's conducted himself throughout the whole trip has been outstanding."
England and former NSW coach Trevor Bayliss claimed the Sydney Test, which traditionally helps spinners, was a good opportunity to blood Crane.
"We think he's a guy that has got the goods, and the more he plays at this level the better he will get,” Bayliss said.
Stoneman has played six seasons of Grade cricket in Sydney going back to 2006/07, representing St George, Campbelltown-Camden and most recently Bankstown. His most recent season two summers ago was by far his best, scoring 699 runs at 63.55.
Crane and Stoneman are amongst a multitude of England players who have used Sydney Grade cricket to further their game including former England captains Kevin Pietersen, Andrew Strauss, Nasser Hussain, Mike Gatting, Geoff Boycott and Tony Greig.
Another England leg-spinner, Ian Salisbury, won the Bill O’Reilly Medal in 1999/2000.