England opener says only “two or three” county championship courses are of sufficient quality to aid in test club development
The condition of the surfaces in domestic red ball cricket has come under fire after England’s defeat in this Ashes series. Coach Chris Silverwood, cricket director Ashley Giles and even James Anderson insist they don’t prepare batsmen for the rigors of Test cricket.
Zak Crawley has set his sights on the quality of pitches in the County Championship, stating that it is difficult for any opening bat to average above their lower 30s.
Now Crawley has spoken up after being asked why his top-notch average of 31.21 is so low. “I think it’s the fact that I’ve been beating bad places throughout my championship career,” he said.
“I have a feeling that it was very difficult to open my eyelashes. In my best form, I obviously showed something that the English national teams liked. So I was picked with an average of 30, which is less than normal, but there aren’t that many openers right now that are a lot more on average than that.
“The pitches have been very cheap for bowlers throughout my career. Until that changes, I think 34-35 is a very good average for an opener these days and that’s very different from 10 years ago.”
When asked if he had ever considered leaving Kent to find cheaper places to hone his craft, Crawley admitted, “No, I haven’t, to be honest. As long as I play for England, I don’t see any need to change.
“Of course I would like the place in Canterbury to get a little better. I don’t think it’s unfair to say that. But I don’t think it’s just a Kent thing, I think pretty much all of the floors I’ve played on have been pretty bad. I can think of two or three that would make me think, “This is a really good wicket”.
“So it would be difficult for me to find a place that is a little flatter. I think it’s more of a national issue and I think it will help our test team a lot as the pitches get better. “
The 23-year-old has demonstrated his quality in the test arena, scoring 267 against Pakistan in the summer of 2020 and an enterprising 77 during England’s second innings in Sydney that helped Joe Roots team save a tie in the fourth Ashes Test.
However, Crawley, who averaged 10.81 in tests during a 2021 nightmare, has revealed that he is often watching his double century in Southampton to give himself a boost. “To be honest, I watch these innings a lot when I’m going through bad form because it’s a nice reminder that I’ve done it before and can do it again,” he said.
“Sometimes you can lose sight of the fact that you can play when you’re feeling a little rough. It’s always nice to remember that you’ve done it before and can definitely do it again. I played really well that day, but I feel like I’m a better player now and that’s because of the failures I had last year. I feel like I’ve learned a lot about myself. Like what almost shouldn’t be done. I would have liked to have shot a lot more runs in 2021, but I’m very grateful for that. “
At least Crawley’s 2022 started positive those innings at the SCG as he dominated Australia’s attack and cut off a pulling Mitchell Starc at will until he was caught with a pound by Cameron Green 23 runs shy of a second Test hundred.
“It couldn’t be more fun,” he says. “That’s why I wanted to play cricket for moments like this. I enjoyed it massively. I was also more annoyed than ever when I got out. But while it lasted in the middle, it wasn’t far from the most fun I’ve ever had on a cricket field – I absolutely loved it. “
Crawley also admits that England would like to end a difficult tour in style when the final Ashes Test, a day-night game in Hobart, kicks off on Friday. “We are all massively ready for it,” he said. “We really want to win this test so that we can walk away with our heads held a little higher than they would have been.”
Are County Pitches Really That Bad? Zak Crawley’s view and that of many others at the game are not entirely confirmed by the results of the ECB’s pitch panel, which is loud Cricbuzz, rated 79 percent of the parking spaces as “good” or “very good” during the 2021 district championship season.
Indeed, some openers thrived, including Jake Libby in Worcestershire, who averaged 56.57 last summer, and Tom Haines (47.04) from Sussex. Sam Robson, Keaton Jennings and Rory Burns, who all played test cricket for England averages 40.26, 48.05 and 47.46, respectively. Alastair Cook, England’s all-time runscorer, struggled, however, averaging just 32.15.
Warwickshire opener Rob Yates, an expected summer new test cap, averaged 37.76 and scored four hundred points, while Haseeb Hameed (37.72) and Dominic Sibley (36.15), his rivals for a test Opening place, achieved similar returns.
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