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News > Sports > Zak Crawley: "I have always thought 99 is as good as 100"

Zak Crawley: "I have always thought 99 is as good as 100"

Kent are back in Division One of the Championship after an eight-year absence and Zack Crawley (WH 11-16) is relishing the challenge
3 May 2019



The following article was published in The Cricketer, March 2019:

Kent batsman Zak Crawley (WH 11-16) “always thought 99 was as good as 100”, but when twice he fell just short of three figures last summer, it started to become a bit of a thing for him.

“The first time was against Warwickshire [at Canterbury],” he told The Cricketer. “I was going through a rough patch before so I was actually pretty pleased with 93.

“The 96 against Derbyshire [at the 3aaa County Ground] was a bit different. I was batting well that day on a really flat one. I was four short, saw a gap through midwicket, tried to flick it through there and missed a straight one [he was lbw to Tony Palladino]. I was much more nervous. I really wanted that one.

“I have never been one to get nervous in the 90s as I have always thought 99 is as good as 100, but I was very nervous this time – everybody kept talking about this ‘habit of mine’.

Finally salvation came against Glamorgan at Canterbury – and once he reached three figures, he motored on impressively to 168, in an innings win. “I was delighted. I managed to calm myself down and crack on a bit more.”

There was also a bizarre incident when Kent played in West Indies’ Caribbean Super50 in the winter of 2017/18. Crawley was on 99 and hoping to get back on strike, when a Leewards Islands' fielder let a shot from Sean Dickson reach the boundary rather than intercept it to end the match. It caused a rumpus. Hopefully there will be plenty more centuries to make up for those missed ones.

The 21-year-old from Bromley went to Tonbridge School and joined the club when he was 13 (“I’m a Kent boy through and through”). He then made the breakthrough into the first team in 2017. “I played at the back end of that season. We were trying to get promotion. It didn’t go to plan and I didn’t get many runs, although I did score 62 against the West Indians in Canterbury Week.

“Last summer was my first full year. I played every match [in the Championship] and managed to get a few runs towards the end.”


ZAK CRAWLEY: Career Stats
Age: 21
First-class: 21 matches, 33 innings, 934 runs (ave 28.30), 1 100, 5 50s, HS 168
List A: 14 matches, 14 innings, 342 runs (ave 26.30), 2 50s, HS 99*
T20: 1 match, 1 innings, 3 runs (s/r 75.00)

The 96 against Derbyshire led to him moving to one of the openers’ slots. “I would love to stay there. It is where I see myself batting in the future in all formats. It’s a challenge at the start of the year but one I enjoy. If you see off the new ball it’s the best place to bat.”

Dickson is his likely partner this summer, although there is the prospect of Matt Renshaw accompanying him at the start of the innings or first drop. The Australian is a big lad, but not as tall as Crawley, who is 6ft 5ins.

“It will be nice to be level with someone for once so you don’t have to look so far down to talk to them,” says Crawley. “I think my height can be an advantage. If you start slouching that is when you can fall lbw, especially with the ball skidding through. It’s knowing your game. By the end of last season I had sorted it out because if bowlers aim for your pads then you can score runs there.”

Kent are back in Division One of the Championship after an eight-year absence and Crawley is relishing the challenge. “The standard is obviously a bit higher but I don’t think the gap between divisions is as great as people think. Essex went up and won the title. Middlesex won it and then went down. The pitches and type of cricket differ. The bowlers have more pace, and what I have heard is that they bowl more of a channel line – they bore you out. In Division Two you have a lot of 75mph bowlers, and the ball can hit you on the shin.

“I am a back-foot player and I think Division One can suit my game. I am looking forward to putting myself up against the better players. We do well in white-ball cricket against the better sides.”

Crawley says his favourite format is the 50-over game. “You can build an innings and then explode at the end. Bowlers can bowl well up top and then bowl ‘death’ at the end. The fielding is as intense in T20, whereas it is not in Championship cricket.”

Crawley spent the winter playing grade cricket in New South Wales (two years before that he was in South Australia). It gave him a chance to work on aspects of his game.

“T20 is obviously the future so I have been concentrating on that. I only played one game last year for Kent in the Blast, so that is a big goal of mine. My biggest goal is to play Test cricket for England, so while I think 50-over is my favourite format I have given it the least attention this winter.”

Kent’s impressive coach Matt Walker says of the youngster: “We wanted to protect him a little in the middle order, but he showed as soon as we moved him to opener that he could deal with that. If he had started the season there, he would have faced some tricky scenarios and pitches, but it evolved naturally him finding his way to the top of the order. The way he played… especially against Warwickshire in the last game of the season [he scored 75 at Edgbaston] – they were a really hyped-up team, they had a fine attack [including Olly Stone], and he showed what a class act he is.”

A ringing endorsement that will stand Crawley in good stead this season.
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