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England v South Africa 2022

Alastair Cook backs Harry Brook to open for England in place of Zak Crawley

by Wisden Staff 3 minute read

Alastair Cook has called for Zak Crawley to be given a break from the England side, with Yorkshire batter Harry Brook to open the batting in his place.

Cook was writing in his Sunday Times column, where he argued that it is time for England to move on from Crawley at the top of the order.

“In my view it is time for Zak Crawley to be given a break from the team,” wrote Cook. “He has had a lot of backing, and we have all seen the potential in his game that excites so many people. He has got some world-class areas — if people bowl slightly short he will punish them, and he possesses a great drive — but I don’t think he quite knows how he wants to play.”


Crawley has struggled with the bat this summer, averaging 16.40 for England in five Tests and 21.23 in first-class cricket in total. However, he remains highly rated within the England set-up with head coach Brendon McCullum arguing that Crawley possesses match-winning qualities and is still backed by the England set-up.

“This need not be the end of Zak,” Cook added. “He’s a young guy and can come again, whether in six months, a year or two years. He’s been picked on potential for a long time now and delivered perhaps three times in 48 innings. He’s averaging 15 in the past seven Tests and 22 in 35 innings as an opener. For now, it’s about going away and scoring runs.”

In his place, Cook argued for the inclusion of Harry Brook. The 23 year-old Yorkshire batter has been in phenomenal form this summer, averaging 107.44 in the County Championship as well as scoring a century for England Lions against South Africa.

Brook has spent the summer batting in the middle-order, but recently said that he would not turn down the opportunity to open the batting were one to arise.

“If someone else is to move in, I’d go for Harry Brook,” Cook said of Brook. “He has been scoring his runs at No. 5. But he is in great form and has opened the batting in the past. It’s not ideal, but he’s a man of serious talent and potential, and deserves a shot, not only because of the runs he’s scored but the aggressive manner in which he’s made them. I think he could do it.”

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