‘This is as chaotic as any innings could be’ – Zak Crawley’s latest failure in Wellington sparks online debate over his Test future
Zak Crawley extended his run of innings without scoring fifty to eight in the second Test match against New Zealand, sparking significant speculation online about his future in England’s Test XI.
England’s second innings began after tea on day four, they faced a tricky period to bat having been set 258 to win after enforcing the follow-on. The innings Crawley played was frenetic, the ball beating both his inside and outside edges multiple times before he was dismissed by Tim Southee.
Facing his third ball, he risked being dismissed for a duck after getting a thick top edge on the new ball. The ESPNcricinfo ball-by-ball commentator wrote of the shot: “Huge hack, massive top-edge! Crikey, Crawley shows his hand early! Swings through a pull, but the ball’s not remotely there for the shot, flies high over the cordon but safe… buckle up!”
In the following over Crawley rode his luck once again, when a ball from Matt Henry threatened his stumps as it went through him. Only just into his innings and England’s beleaguered opener was “living dangerously”. ESPNcricinfo’s ball-by-ball said he “didn’t know much about that one as it zinged past his inside edge.”
Crawley also survived a run-out scare in his short innings, setting off for a quick single after getting a leading edge to point on a ball from Southee. He slipped as he scrambled back into his crease in “complete panic” and was lucky the ball missed his stumps when Devon Conway tried to throw them down.
Even when he managed to hit Henry for three fours in one over shortly before his dismissal, the boundaries were less than convincing and punctuated with another near miss where the fielder was within inches of catching a ball clipped to square leg. After one of his less than convincing boundaries, ESPNcricinfo drew comparisons to Stuart Broad’s role as ‘nighthawk’: “Crawley might as well be the nighthawk here, this is as chaotic as any innings could be.”
With only a few overs left to see out before stumps, Southee got his man, with a good ball that nipped back in and caught Crawley on the drive, catching the inside edge of his bat and ricocheting onto the stumps. After 33 Test matches, Crawley’s average now sits at 27.60. He last passed fifty in the first Test against Pakistan at Rawalpindi in December last year.
His latest failure drew plenty of reaction online, with commentators questioning whether it was now time for England to look elsewhere in their Test XI.
Sad to see Zak Crawley’s innings tonight. It was almost painful to watch. Just when I thought he might live to fight another day he was beaten by Tim Southee. Surely that’s the end, for now at least. Jonny Bairstow must come back for somebody. Sadly it has to be Crawley
— Paul Newman (@Paul_NewmanDM) February 27, 2023
It’s a brilliant delivery from Tim Southee but Zak Crawley barely moves his front foot and always looks vulnerable to the fuller delivery around 5th stump #NZEng pic.twitter.com/cTB2f9R74h
— simon hughes (@theanalyst) February 27, 2023
England will resume on 48-1 on day five. Ollie Robinson, a more traditional nightwatch, survived the remainder of play. They will require 210 runs to win.