Zak Crawley issues a case for the defence as attention shifts to an Ashes summer

Zak Crawley defended his technique after a disappointing winter with the bat during England’s thrilling tours of Pakistan and New Zealand.

During England’s dramatic 1-1 series draw in New Zealand, Crawley scored just 58 runs in four innings, leaving him with an average of 27.60 from 33 Tests.

An Ashes year increases the attention on players and with Jonny Bairstow stepping up his recovery from a broken leg towards the end of last summer, someone is likely to have to make way from the current squad.

Crawley hopes to impress for Kent in the County Championship ahead of the Ashes later this summer
Zak Crawley hopes to impress for Kent in the County Championship ahead of the Ashes later this summer (John Walton/PA)

In both New Zealand Tests, Crawley was dismissed for single figures in the first innings, against an experienced bowling attack, but the batter insisted his defence was not something he needed to work on.

“I have got a good defensive technique,” the 25-year-old said. “When you are playing against the best sides in the world it might look like it’s not.

“It’s not something I need to work on. It’s something I need to keep backing.

“The same as my aggressive game. I always try to improve on all areas of my game, that’s a given.”

Brendon McCullum has continued to show faith in Crawley throughout the winter, insisting that due to his role as an opener inconsistencies are expected.

The England head coach went one step further after the New Zealand series, saying that – following conversations with Ricky Ponting – the Australians respect the Kent opener.

Crawley has been consistently backed by England head coach Brendon McCullum

Crawley has been consistently backed by England head coach Brendon McCullum (Mike Egerton/PA)

Crawley appreciated McCullum’s support, adding: “It’s nice when people back you and think you’re a good player. I’ve had a lot of support from a lot of people about my game but most importantly you’ve got to back yourself or it’s not going to work.

“I certainly do. It hasn’t gone perfectly the last year but I’ve had some good knocks. I’ve got two hundreds last year, I was in the top 10 runscorers.”

Crawley was eighth in terms of most Test runs amassed in 2022, having scored 844 in 15 Tests.

He added: “But that probably wasn’t portrayed in how I was spoken about in the press.

“But there’s ups and downs in anyone’s career and especially opening the batting and I back myself and keep batting every time.”

The five-match Ashes series starts on June 16 at Edgbaston and Crawley will be hoping for a place in the England line-up after their dismal performance Down Under last time around.

Crawley played three Tests as England slumped to a defeat, losing the Ashes in just 12 days of cricket and offering up a meagre resistance to Australia’s bowling.

Crawley was part of England's dismal 4-0 defeat in the last Ashes series
Crawley was part of England’s dismal 4-0 defeat in the last Ashes series (Darren England/AAP)

During his three Tests, Crawley had a high score of 77, and he admitted there is always more pressure during the Ashes.

He added: “I certainly felt in the Ashes Down Under, there was a lot more hype around it and it was just bigger and there seemed to be more media.

“I got more nervous for it, it almost felt like my debut again, so I suppose that answers it, there is just a bigger hype around it and rightly so.

“It’s the biggest rivalry in Test match cricket, isn’t it?”

 

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