The Ashes: Zak Crawley says ‘poor’ county pitches are partly to blame for England’s Test struggles

Opening batter Zak Crawley calls for county pitches to improve as England look to boost Test fortunes; Crawley feels his first-class batting average of 31.21 is down to the state of domestic surfaces; Crawley struggled in Test matches in 2021 but scored 77 in his second innings of 2022

Last Updated: 11/01/22 12:40pm

Zak Crawley scored 77 in the second innings of the fourth Test at Sydney as England avoided an Ashes sweep

Zak Crawley says “poor pitches” are one of the chief reasons for his low first-class batting average and England’s struggle for runs overall at Test level.

Crawley scored an excellent 77 from 100 deliveries on day five of the drawn fourth Ashes Test in Sydney as England passed 200 for just the fourth time in eight innings on tour.

The Kent batter, 23, was dubbed “the future of England” by Australia great Ian Chappell after his fluent knock at the SCG but averages just 31.21 from 67 first-class matches.

Asked about his county record, Crawley said: “I think it’s the fact I’ve batted on poor pitches, really for my whole Championship career.

“I feel like it’s been very hard to open the batting. The pitches have been very favourable to bowlers my whole career.

Crawley's top-score for England is the 267 he hit against Pakistan at The Ageas Bowl in 2020

Crawley’s top-score for England is the 267 he hit against Pakistan at The Ageas Bowl in 2020

“At my best, I’ve obviously shown something the England selectors have enjoyed, so I got picked with an average of 30. That is less than normal but there aren’t too many openers averaging a lot more than that at the moment.

“I think 34-35 is a very good average for an opener these days and that’s something that’s very different from 10 years ago.

“Obviously I’d like the pitch at Canterbury to be a little bit better – I don’t think it’s unfair of me to say – but I don’t think it’s just a Kent thing.

“I think pretty much all the grounds I’ve played on have been pretty poor. I can think of about two or three where I’ve got to them thinking ‘this is a really good wicket’.

“So, it’d be tough for me to find somewhere maybe a bit flatter. I think it’s more a country-wide problem and I think it will help our Test team a lot if pitches did start getting better.”

Crawley's first-class batting average is below 32

Crawley’s first-class batting average is below 32

Crawley: Failures have made me a better player

Crawley scored a breakthrough 267 against Pakistan at the Ageas Bowl in August 2020 but then took a further 18 Test innings to pass that number of runs and his Test average in 2021 read a dismal 10.81 from eight games.

Crawley says there were times his confidence waned but that he is a better player because of his failures.

“I would have said the 267 was a springboard for me and 2021, it certainly wasn’t,” added Crawley.

“I watch that innings frequently when I’m going through bad form, to be honest, because it is a nice reminder that I’ve done it before and I can do it again.

“Sometimes if you are feeling a bit rough, you can lose sight of the fact that you can play and it’s always nice to remind yourself.

The fifth Ashes Test will be staged in Hobart from Friday

The fifth Ashes Test will be staged in Hobart from Friday

“I played really nicely that day but I feel like I’m a better player now and that’s because of the failures I had last year. It was all a great learning curve.

“You tend to learn more from your failures than your successes actually and it wasn’t the year I wanted. But I learned a lot about myself and my game and I feel like I can push on from it and become a better player.”

‘Biggest sporting event Tasmania has ever seen’

Crawley will now open for England in the fifth and final Test in Hobart from Friday, as the Tasmanian city hosts its maiden Ashes Test match.

Perth was due to stage the game but the venue was switched due to Western Australia’s strict coronavirus restrictions.

Jane Howlett, Tasmania’s minister for sport and recreation, said: “We’re here preparing for the biggest sporting event Tasmania has ever seen. What an historical moment this is going to be.

“It’s going to inspire many young Tasmanians to participate in the sport. They’re going to want to be the next David Boon, the next Ricky Ponting.”

Andrew Gaggin, Cricket Tasmania chairman, added: “Some people said that there was no interest in Test cricket in Hobart – and within 24 hours of tickets going on sale, the first three days were sold out.

“Tasmanians love Test cricket. They’re coming from all over the state to attend this game. They can’t wait for it to happen.”

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