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Opinion

Crawley is England's opening solution

Langy new author
Roar Rookie
17th January, 2022
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Langy new author
Roar Rookie
17th January, 2022
14

The state of England’s opening partnerships has never been analysed more closely than it currently is after a horrid Ashes tour Down Under, but did they find a gem to fulfil one half of the equation for years to come.

England tried three different opening stands throughout the series which included Haseeb Hameed and Rory Burns first, before Burns was dropped for the third Test at the MCG and replaced by Zak Crawley.

The combination would again change for the final Test in Hobart when Hameed was dropped for the recalled Burns, displaying the visitor’s troubles at the selection table.

Hameed and Burns combined for just 157 runs through the entire series which provided an average between the combination of just 12.64.

The same poor form was not seen from Crawley as the opener flexed his muscles and stroke play as one of England’s only shining lights during Australia’s 4-0 series victory.

The stroke-playing right-hander attacked Australia’s bowling attack off the front and back foot like none of his compatriots could, including his captain and the No.2-ranked Test batsman in the world, Joe Root.

Through six innings Crawley hit 166 runs at an average of 27.66.

No, the numbers don’t jump off the page, but it’s the way he went about his business which intrigued many fans, experts and commentators including former Australian captain, Ricky Ponting.

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During Crawley’s standout Test match at the SCG where he scored 77 runs off 100 balls in the second innings, he showed several key attributes which Ponting said should hold him in good stead to remain within the side for the near future.

Zak Crawley bats.

Zak Crawley bats during day one of the third Ashes Test. (Photo by Robert Cianflone/Getty Images)

“One innings like that for a struggling English team that are devoid of what looks to be a lot of batting talent, he probably locks himself in for another couple of years of Test cricket on the back of one innings,” Ponting told cricket.com.au.

“He showed the mettle, he showed the fight, he showed the intent.”

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They say one hot day doesn’t make a summer and that is the case with Crawley, but the English selectors, coaches and players need to rally behind the 23-year-old opener for several reasons.

Firstly, who better for the job currently?

Hameed and Burns clearly aren’t displaying the confidence to bat at their best while the likes of Dom Sibley and Keaton Jennings have both tried with no success.

Secondly, time is on his side, at just 23 years old he is nowhere near his best form which is something English fans should be excited by.

Lastly, he solves other English woes with his ability to hold onto catches in the slip cordon on a regular basis, something even English greats like Alastair Cook and Joe Root have struggled with on occasions.

Patients is a virtue England must utilise to allow Crawley, who is already displaying his talents, the time to develop into the best cricketer and batsman he can be.

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