England’s Zak Crawley shows skill and judgement in second Test ton | Cricket News

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Nineteen months after his first Test century, and after a horror 2021, Zak Crawley reaches three figures for England again; opener bats with discipline and class during his 117 not out in Antigua; Crawley hopeful England can force victory on day five of first Test against West Indies

Last Updated: 11/03/22 11:44pm


After scoring a century in the first Test against the West Indies, Zak Crawley admitted there were times after being dropped he thought he may never score an international hundred again.

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After scoring a century in the first Test against the West Indies, Zak Crawley admitted there were times after being dropped he thought he may never score an international hundred again.

After scoring a century in the first Test against the West Indies, Zak Crawley admitted there were times after being dropped he thought he may never score an international hundred again.

The England Test team is in a state of transition.

The Ashes debacle has resulted in sackings and droppings. We do not know who will fill the head coach and director of cricket roles on a full-time basis. We do not know whether James Anderson and Stuart Broad will be back. We do not know whether Joe Root will be long-term captain.

But there are some permanent fixtures in the XI (Root, Ben Stokes and, fitness-permitting, Mark Wood) and you can add Zak Crawley to those now after his mature hundred against West Indies in Antigua. In this red-ball reset, he looks set for a major role.

2020 was Crawley’s breakout year as he scored 267 against Pakistan at The Ageas Bowl – the 10th-best by an Englishman in Tests. 2021 was extremely unkind to him, though, as he averaged a paltry 10.81 with 11 single-figure scores out of 16. He was dropped from the side at one point.

“When I got taken out of the team [England] said I had a big future. I was thankful for that and it gave me a lot of confidence. I always believed I would come in again but maybe not so soon,” said Crawley.

‘I’ve made strides but can still improve’

So far, 2022 has been much more enjoyable for the Kent batter. Admittedly, it started with a duck against Australia in Sydney but that was followed by an authoritative 77 in the second innings of the same match and now an unbeaten 117 from 200 balls against West Indies at Sir Vivian Richards Stadium. Nineteen months after his first Test ton, he now has a second.

“It means an awful lot to score a hundred. It’s been a while since my last one and there were times last year when I didn’t think I’d get another. I feel like I have made some decent strides but I still feel I can improve.”

In Australia I moved across and tried to open up the leg-side a bit more which is a strength of mine. My back foot is on off stump. I think know where my off stump is more now and I can leave a bit better.

Zak Crawley on his his tweaked batting technique

Crawley always looks the part. Tall, imposing, all the shots and the ability to keep the scoreboard chugging along apace.

That latter trait is something Dom Sibley, Rory Burns and Haseeb Hameed – the other England openers tried in recent times – have struggled to achieve. They can be tough to watch. Crawley is rarely anything but a joy.

You only need to look back to his double ton against Pakistan to see the sort of talent England are working with. Kevin Pietersen-esque were some of the strokes he played and dominance he displayed.

His form fell off a cliff after that but he has now rediscovered his touch – and shown he can adapt and improve.

Crawley: I reined my game in

In the first innings against West Indies, Crawley was caught behind after inside-edging a drive played with a crooked bat, but he played much straighter, much more judiciously, second time around.

“I like to put pressure on the bowler but I tried to rein my game in a bit more and keep things simple,” added the 24-year-old, who shared an unbroken second-wicket stand of 193 with skipper Joe Root (84no) to swell England’s lead to 153 and give his side a slender chance of victory on day five.

“I’ve tried to put away a few shots I was playing last year which got me into trouble. Root was telling me to make good decisions and thankfully I made more than I usually do!”

Zak Crawley averaged below 11 in Test cricket in 2021 but has started 2022 in form with an Ashes fifty and a hundred in the West Indies

Zak Crawley averaged below 11 in Test cricket in 2021 but has started 2022 in form with an Ashes fifty and a hundred in the West Indies

Crawley allied measured play around off stump with a host of leg-side fours, punishing West Indies any time they overpitched or erred short.

There was the odd classy off-side boundary, too, as he looked as fluent as anyone has on a sluggish surface.

Ramprakash: Crawley can make batting look easy

Former England batting coach Mark Ramprakash said of Crawley on BT Sport: “He played straight and late, under his eyes. He was a lot more precise, which is what international batting is all about.

“There has been unquestionable improvement. He was tested with the new ball outside off stump. In the past, he has not been tight enough defending or driving but here he showed much better judgment about what to leave.

“He left well on a good length and when the bowlers overpitched, he got a good stride in, got his weight into the ball and dealt with it very well.

“We saw the best of him. He puts the bowler under tremendous pressure and whether it is off the front foot or the back foot he is able able to put the ball away for boundaries. At times he makes batting look very easy.”

Forcing victory on the final day in Antigua won’t be easy for England but Crawley says the side will give it their best shot.

“I think we’ve got a good chance. We’re certainly going to try and win it.

“The pitch hasn’t broken up as much as we thought at the start but we’re hoping it’s going to break up quite a bit [on Saturday] and give us a good chance of bowling them out.”

West Indies and England will conclude the first Test at 1.30pm UK time on Saturday. Follow over-by-over text commentary from 1.15pm on skysports.com and the Sky Sports app.

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