Manchester: Following his huge cent against Australia in the fourth Ashes Test at Old Trafford, England fly-half Zak Crawley said that although his high-risk approach as a batter has caused him some doubt, he encourages himself to ` ‘be me’ and added that he prefers a big punch after a few low scores than being more consistent.
Zak Crawley’s 189-and-a-half by Joe Root and Moeen Ali provided 67 runs leading England against Australia on day two of the Ashes Series Four Test match here at Old Trafford cricket ground on Thursday.
From the moment he kicked off the first delivery of the Ashes played by Australian skipper Pat Cummins for four, Crawley repaid the faith shown by skipper Ben Stokes and coach Brendon McCullum in 2021 and 2022 when he struggled with spotty form and inconsistency. Stokes-McCullum backed him to be good and live up to his potential, often saying his hard-hitting innings at the top could prove winning and further England’s ‘Bazball’ approach to cricket, which promotes aggression, positivity and a hunger for a win or at least a result.
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After scoring 173 in 16 innings at an average of around 10 in 2021 and 844 in 29 innings at an average of just over 30, Crawley has shown massive improvement this year. With 518 runs in 13 innings at an average of over 42, a century and two fifty, Crawley is having a great year in red ball cricket so far.
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He is currently the Ashes’ leading scorer this year. He scored 385 runs in seven four-game innings at 55.00 with a century and a fifty. His runs came in at a nearly 90 strike rate. Those numbers surely made the tough times worth enduring.
“Today was a good day for us. We are well placed as a team. It was very fun. I tried my luck sometimes, but I got some good shots along the way. I sometimes doubt myself but I have to say “keep being me”. That’s how I play. I’m pretty streaky but then I go running. They [coach and captain] tell me to go out and make an impact at the top of the command. Sometimes I’m going to have low scoring streaks, because I’m taking a punt, but luckily today it happened,” Crawley said as quoted by Sky Sports.
Last summer, when he was dealing with low scores, McCullum defended Crawley, saying “his talent is not to be a constant cricketer”. Crawley thinks the consistency criticism is fair, but he wouldn’t have days like Old Trafford if he’s looking for consistency.
“They don’t want me to waste days like today. If I tried to be more consistent, maybe I wouldn’t have a day like today. I much prefer that, a few low notes and then a big one. (The review) is definitely fair, as I haven’t been consistent, but I think I’ve shown that at best I’m good enough for this level. I was happy with how it went. It was more my role model,” Crawley said.
Crawley’s aggression against Travis Head, the part-time Aussie spinner without their front row star Nathan Lyon and Cummins, who made 93 carries in 16 overs, was a highlight of his shot.
“It’s definitely a conscious effort to take them out, because they’re obviously great bowlers trying to rest (between spells). When these bowlers arrive, I think it’s important to put them under pressure and that doesn’t give them time to rest and come back. I’d try to beat the clock and build a sleeve like [Joe] Root or any of those guys up there, but it’s a lot better when I put a little more pressure on the bowler before they can get me. Sometimes it goes away, and sometimes it doesn’t,” he said.
Despite his massive numbers, his century didn’t look convincing to many as he frequently overshot his own stumps for four and some shots just flew over the slips for four and looked close enough to catch. Crawley feels he has earned this chance.
“I got a lot of nicks on the slides in this series. And actually, I don’t think it’s luck. I won this chance. If you go harder, the ball goes over the slides. So I’d rather err on that side than go negative,” he said.