Zak Crawley: Should England opener keep his spot for second Test against South Africa despite wretched run of form?

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Zak Crawley’s average dips to 16.06 from his 10 Test innings’ this summer after two low scores at Lord’s; Sky Sports’ Mark Butcher: “I think this constant backing is doing more harm than good. You cannot keep failing and not have it affect you mentally. I think it is starting to get cruel”

Last Updated: 19/08/22 6:51pm

England’s Zak Crawley departs for 13 in the second innings at Lord’s

“We don’t necessarily look for consistency with Zak. It’s about match-winning performances and being able to do special things.”

This backing from England assistant coach Paul Collingwood couldn’t really have been stronger after Zak Crawley’s first-innings nine at Lord’s, his sixth single-figure score in Test matches this summer.

But is the continued backing becoming a problem for Crawley?

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Zak Crawley’s miserable summer continues as he’s dismissed for 13 in England’s second innings against South Africa.

Zak Crawley’s miserable summer continues as he’s dismissed for 13 in England’s second innings against South Africa.

The opener perished for an ungainly 13 second time around as England crumbled to an innings defeat in the first Test against South Africa on Friday, and Sky Sports‘ Mark Butcher said: “You hear people talk about duty of care in all walks of life, but I think this constant backing is doing Crawley more harm than good.

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“You cannot keep failing and not have it affect you mentally. I think it is starting to get cruel.

“Technically he looks as out of sorts as anytime in his Test career – he got out to a missed sweep and how many times did he find a leading edge to deliveries he is trying to play on the leg-side.

“It is all well and good backing players but he is 24 years old, so it is not terminal for him to be left out now and come back a better player. So many guys before him have done it.

“He is not scoring runs in any cricket – whether it’s for England, Kent or in The Hundred.

“Confidence must be at an all-time low. I don’t care how many times you are patted on the back and told everything is going to be fine. A batsman’s currency is runs – end of story – and he is not making any for anybody.”

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Highlights from day three of the first Test between England and South Africa at Lord’s

Highlights from day three of the first Test between England and South Africa at Lord’s

‘At some point you have to take someone out of the firing line’

Sky Sports’ Michael Atherton also gave his thoughts on Crawley’s struggles. “You wouldn’t say there was an air of permanence about him in this innings, he said.

“He didn’t look like a man that was going to be there for a long time. England like him and obviously think there is loads of potential but at some point you have to take someone out of the firing line.

“The best bowlers put it around off stump time and time again and Crawley is nicking off on and around off stump. That’s the game as an opening batsman and if you are struggling to sort that aspect of your game, it is an issue.”

McCullum: Crawley hurting, but his time will come

But, addressing the issue after suffering his first defeat as head coach of England, Brendon McCullum echoed the sentiments of Collingwood earlier in the Test, that they want Crawley to “chase great moments” rather than expect consistency from the opener.

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Head coach, Brendon McCullum isn’t panicking after seeing England lose to South Africa in the first Test at Lord’s

Head coach, Brendon McCullum isn’t panicking after seeing England lose to South Africa in the first Test at Lord’s

“He is obviously hurting at the moment, but he’s a quality player and I’m sure his time will come,” McCullum said.

“I think there is this expectation on Zak to be this consistent batsman at the top of the order. And there’s been a fair few people who have batted at the top of the order in England who will tell you it’s not necessarily the easiest place to bat at times.

“His technique and his style, what we’re asking from him is to try and chase great moments, try and embrace the fact that inconsistency will be there because you’re that type of player.

“It takes an element of trust in that process. Not just from [Ben] Stokesy and myself, and those who are leaders in the side, but also from Zak himself.”

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Ben Stokes told Mel Jones that defeat to South Africa at Lord’s isn’t a wake-up call and hasn’t dented the confidence in his England side

Ben Stokes told Mel Jones that defeat to South Africa at Lord’s isn’t a wake-up call and hasn’t dented the confidence in his England side

‘Crawley not at ease with his game or place in the team’

Crawley is currently averaging 26.06 from 26 Tests in his career – the standout remaining his 267 against Pakistan at The Ageas Bowl in August 2020 – and with that average dipping to 16.06 from 10 innings this summer. His top score is 46.

Former England captain, Sir Andrew Strauss, said: “The problem with Crawley is that we haven’t had any of those sizeable contributions [this summer]. We haven’t had the upside to go with the downside.

“It feels like his game is a bit skewed at the moment. He doesn’t understand the high-risk from the low-risk options. From what we have seen, Crawley is not at ease with his game or his place in the team either.

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Sir Andrew Strauss discusses the important next steps of the Ruth Strauss Foundation, with an aim to reach and support as many children as possible facing the death of a parent

Sir Andrew Strauss discusses the important next steps of the Ruth Strauss Foundation, with an aim to reach and support as many children as possible facing the death of a parent

“In that double-hundred against Pakistan we saw his strengths. He is tall, can hit balls on top of the bounce – he is hard to bowl to in full flow.

“But the secret to batting at the top of the order in international cricket is problem solving and understanding that pitch and bowling attack is asking different questions.

“We haven’t seen enough of that – the learning, the adapting his game, the smart decision-making and if you have not got that, you are not going to last in international cricket.

“There is too much analysis and too many smart bowlers who will work you over very quickly.”

Watch day one of the second LV= Insurance Test between England and South Africa, from Emirates Old Trafford, live on Sky Sports The Hundred from Thursday. Build-up starts at 10am ahead of the first ball at 11am.

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