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Ashes 2021/22

Nasser Hussain: Zak Crawley should consider leaving Kent to ready himself for international cricket

by Wisden Staff 3 minute read

Nasser Hussain has suggested that Zak Crawley should consider moving counties in order to better prepare himself for international cricket.

Crawley is one of England’s two incumbent openers, but endured a horror 12 months with the bat in 2021. He averaged 10.81, the worst of any batter with 15 or more innings in the top seven in a calendar year. He made fewer runs in 16 innings in 2021 (173) than in his last innings in 2020, with his record-breaking 267 against Pakistan marking him out as one of the most exciting young batters in the world.

Crawley’s first-class record is also unremarkable, with an average of 30.80 after his first-innings dismissal for 18 at the SCG. Despite that, Hussain rated Crawley as one of England’s best top-order players technically.

“The one player among the openers we have seen in this Ashes who actually does have a good technique is Zak Crawley, who is something of an anomaly,” he wrote for the Daily Mail. “I was listening to Mark Waugh, who I’ve always considered a good judge of a cricketer, on Fox and just before Crawley got out Waugh said he couldn’t work out why he averages 30 in first-class cricket with such an organised game.”

“Crawley tries to put bat to ball at the right tempo, doesn’t defend all the time, and puts the pressure back on the bowlers. But something isn’t right. Again at the SCG he looked good but then got out and he cannot live off that 267 against Pakistan forever.”

Hussain wondered whether Crawley’s home ground at Canterbury, renowned as one of the most seam-friendly in the country, was working against him. The former England captain wondered whether a move away from his boyhood club might be what Crawley needed to score consistently at Test level.

“The only currency is runs, not looking good and hitting some sweet boundaries before getting out,” Hussain said. “You only have to look at the way Dean Elgar played in making an unbeaten 96 in South Africa’s victory over India at Johannesburg to prove that.

“The one thing you would say is that Crawley’s bat can come across the line of the ball from gully towards mid-on and they say that’s because he is playing for Kent on pitches at Canterbury that can nibble around and he gets his leg out of the way to try to avoid lbw.

“Maybe he has to consider moving to a county with flatter pitches and getting big runs to ready himself for international cricket. We’ve seen Dawid Malan and Nick Gubbins leaving Middlesex in recent times for similar reasons.”

Veteran Kent all-rounder Darren Stevens recently hit back at the suggestion that his success was down to helpful surfaces.

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