When it comes to Test cricket, opening the batting is the toughest task one cannot reckon with. The way the red seams and swings, only a few can go throughout the session.
But now in modern Test cricket, do players really need to survive a session to score runs? Well, it’s a no if one is playing under the Bazball.
And Zack Crawley happens to be one of them.
In his recent innings, Crawley just took 76 deliveries to score 73 runs. It’s the Bazball approach, and we all are just living in it.
Crawley’s rise to prominence
No one can say that a batter averaging less than 35 in domestic cricket can be seen as a potential international batter. But Crawley still found his way to represent the England Lions in 2019.
One can say it’s because of his driving skills as we saw a perfect drive where his bat made the perfect arc to complete a sublime cover drive off Starc’s delivery in the recent game.
2019 became his year, as he went on to smash 820 runs in the County season and got a maiden Test call-up for the New Zealand tour. A century in the warm-up game created an easy path for him to the XI as Jos Buttler was injured.
The right-hander was retained for the South Africa tour despite getting just one run on his debut while batting lower in the order. He received praise for his skill in playing the short-pitched deliveries on the bouncy African tracks, and he went on to open the batting in the final test and scored a half-century.
Crawley got to play against West Indies and Pakistan just after the Covid-19 outbreak. He bettered his best score against West Indies, scoring 76.
The test match against Pakistan enhanced everything for him as he smashed his maiden century and went on to score 171 not out on the first day of play. The tall man built a partnership with Jos Buttleron the second day of play, scoring 267 in the end, which went on to rank as the second-highest maiden century score.
Inconsistency in 2021-22
Given the turning tracks in Asian countries like Sri Lanka and India, foreign players often face difficulties in the middle. And this was Crawley’s first tour to Asia. He had a difficult time where his three innings did not even generate 15 runs.
His poor performance in the year 2021, which included 11 single-digit scores out of 16 occasions, was considered to be a torrid period for him.
He was backed again and was called in the third Test of the Ashes 2021-22, where he scored poorly in both innings. And how would he have scored in that particular Test where Scott Boland was born?
He finally scored a half-century in the fourth Test and retained his place in the squad for the West Indies tour. Crawley found his rhythm, scored his second Test ton and was named the magnificent player by the stalwart, Sir Viv Richards.
And from then, there was no looking back for the youngster. He smashed a century in the first Test of the Pakistan tour and came close to becoming the fourth batter to score a century before Lunch, courtesy of Bazball approach.
Success in Ashes 2023
Zack Crawley welcomed the hosts with a half-century in the first innings of the first test, but Boland got him in both innings. England lost the match where everyone blamed early declaration in the first innings, courtesy again Bazball.
With 48 in the first innings of the second test and 3 in the second, Crawley was not at his best. He came back positive in the third game scoring 30+ in both innings, but his best was yet to arrive.
And his best finally came in the fourth test, where he smashed 189 runs off just 182 deliveries and helped England reach a mammoth total of 592. Crawley scored a half-century in the ongoing final Test as well and finished his Ashes with 480 runs with an average of over 53. The ability of scoring fast and big is what Bazball is all about and that’s what Crawley has done without crawling.
England tried so many batters at the top since Sir Alastair Cook, but no one could retain a place. Haseeb Hameed, Rory Burns, Joe Denly, and many more, but the hunt seems to end now, as Ben Duckett and Crawley have done the job against the World Test Champions.