News > Sports > Zak Crawley scores double century against Pakistan in England's third Test
Zak Crawley scores double century against Pakistan in England's third Test
Crawley (WH 11-16) became the third-youngest England player to score a Test double hundred
Zak Crawley: I didn’t get nervous on the double-ton until I got to 197
Lockdown came at a bad time for Zak Crawley but he used the time well and is now in the history books
Nick Greenslade Saturday August 29 2020, 6.00pm, The Sunday Times
A carpet fitter who ditched his Stanley knife to carve a career in the City is now pocketing more than £8 million a year. Terry Crawley, who started life on a rough council estate, is making a pile dealing in high-risk financial markets.
And the 34-year-old whizz-kid has become Britain’s fifth highest-paid man behind rock idols Elton John, Sting, Eric Clapton and Phil Collins. Terry, whose grandad was a humble river bargeman, spent his early years in a pokey flat overlooking a rail line in Bermondsey, southeast London.
He earned £100 a week fitting carpets. But now he owns a £2.25 million estate in a Kent village. The Sun, June 6, 1997
Terry Crawley still lives in that Kent village. At the start of lockdown, he and his wife, Lisa, were joined there by their adult children, Zak and India.
Lockdown was not good for anyone but its timing could not have been less felicitous for Zak. Two months earlier, aged 22, he had played in all three of England’s Test wins in South Africa, finishing with a creditable series average of 32.60. From there it was on to Sri Lanka. On March 12, he scored his fourth first-class hundred against a President’s XI in Colombo, a performance that was surely enough to nail down his place for the two-Test series.
Within 24 hours, however, he was on a plane back to London and the century was scratched from the record books — the match was abandoned and so was the tour as Covid-19 became a pandemic.
Crawley probably did not think he would have to wait more than five months to register that fourth hundred. It was worth the wait, though: last week, in Southampton in the third Test against Pakistan, he became the third-youngest England player to score a Test double century with an innings of 267.
It is important to talk about that period back in the family home in the spring because while it put a temporary check on his progress, it also provided the basis for him to resume on a steeper trajectory. As we sit in the glare of the morning sun at Canterbury, three days after the final Test of the summer ended, Crawley describes how his dad helped him to make that step change.
“Dad would give me a few throwdowns to make sure I could feel bat on ball and I worked on my fitness,” he says. “But I also started to think about the game a lot. My dad thinks about it a lot too so I bounced ideas around with him. I felt like I had a good plan about how I would go about things when cricket restarted. I loved talking to him about how I should be as a sportsman, how I should behave.”
Crawley comes across as thoughtful but without overcomplicating the game. Asked by Sky Sports what he had worked on when he returned to training in June, he said he had simply noted that the key to batting at Test level was being able to handle fast bowling and quality spin. “In the nets, you’re trying to replicate as much as possible what you get in the middle but in the extreme,” he said. “So I had the bowling machine turned up high and worked on strokes I wanted to play against the quicks: the pull shot, ducking out the way of a short one; and then with spin, the sweep shot and making sure I had a solid defence.”
Then came the plan, executed to perfection against Pakistan. “I stood a couple of feet outside the crease for Mohammad Abbas to take lbw out of the equation,” he says. “That made him bowl shorter. Against Shaheen Afridi, I wanted to get leg side. I was a bit lower in my stance against Naseem Shah because he’s quite skiddy. Yasir Shah didn’t get as much bounce as a leg spinner usually does but he was always attacking the stumps. My height can be a positive against spin because of my reach, which makes a bowler have to adjust his normal length.”
That single-mindedness and focus had first struck Chris Morgan, the director of sport at Tonbridge, the public school that he shares as an alma mater with Ed Smith, the national selector. “Zak would have been about 14 and it was clear he was talented so I asked him about what he hoped to achieve,” Morgan says. “He said he wanted to play for England. Usually when you get that kind of response from a 14-year-old it sounds like a pipe dream but there was a clarity to his tone, which made it clear it wasn’t. We’ve had aspirant swimmers who were up early to train in the pool but he was the first cricketer who was in before school for nets.”
Morgan remembers a game a few years later against a Cranleigh side boasting Ollie Pope. “Zak scored 140 in another defeat when Pope got the plaudits for some outrageous, unorthodox shots on his way to 150. Looking back, however, I think Zak’s innings was the more technically accomplished.”
Twice this summer Crawley failed to convert fifties into hundreds and both experiences were important. In the first Test against West Indies, he and Ben Stokes looked well set with England 249 for three in their second innings. Six balls after Stokes was dismissed, Crawley followed, out for 76, tamely chipping a return catch to Alzarri Joseph. “I got ahead of myself, started thinking about a century,” he says. “So that was annoying. They bowled well to get back into the game and win but I knew there had been a chance to set up victory for us.”
Then there was a 53 on the last day of the rain-affected second Test against Pakistan. The game could end only in a draw when he walked to the crease. So no pressure then? “If anything I saw the downside more than the upside, I knew the pitch was doing a bit and it was going to be tough,” he says. “I’m thinking, ‘What if I get out for a low score, will I lose my place?’ I managed to get a few away early on, which settled me down. That definitely helped ahead of the final Test.”
Where to start with that innings of 267? The start seems like an obvious point. “I got a lovely ball first up to get away off my legs, which is one of my favourite shots and then squeezed a yorker through point and all of a sudden I’m on eight off three balls.
“Jos Buttler was a calming influence as I got nearer to a century because he kept telling me just to concentrate on the next ball. When something means a lot to you — like scoring your first Test hundred — it helps you focus. As for the double ton, I didn’t really get nervous until I was on 197. They had two slips and a gully, which I thought was quite aggressive so I knew there was a chance but the shot which brought me the four runs I needed [a cut that flew between second slip and gully] was a false one.”
If there is a slight disappointment for Crawley it is that neither of his parents has yet been in the crowd to watch him represent England. Clearly that was not going to be a possibility this summer, while they chose not to travel to New Zealand and South Africa when he toured there over the winter. “There was a strong chance I wasn’t going to get picked for those Tests but also Dad said, ‘You’re there with people your age, you should enjoy being with them. If I was 22 years old I wouldn’t want to be bothering about my parents.’ ”
Smart man, Terry Crawley, as Rob Key, the former Kent captain who has acted as mentor for his son, confirms: “You have to sacrifice as a parent and his parents have done a hell of a lot of that. They’re not pushy parents. They just try to give him every opportunity they can. If he ever wants to go hit some balls, they’d do that with him. It’s not about you, the parent; it’s about the kid enjoying it.”
The “kid” certainly enjoyed it last week.
Staying off Twitter Crawley is the only member of the team who played in last week’s Test not to have a Twitter account and, despite his new fame, has no plans to change that. He is on Facebook but only to stay in touch with friends. “Alastair Cook never went on social media and that didn’t work out too badly for him,” he says. It certainly didn’t.
Breaking the bubble boredom Crawley was one of 11 England players who, in addition to lockdown, had to endure being stuck inside the “biosecure bubble” for 60 days over the summer. So how did he keep himself amused? “Watching Fauda, the Netflix drama series about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Compulsive viewing, especially when it was raining in Southampton.”
The batsman’s father, Terry, had always impressed on him the importance of reading and at the start of lockdown, he was working his way through Billion Dollar Hollywood Heist by Dylan Howard and Houston Curtis. He is also a big fan (“the best book I’ve read”) of Allan Folsom’s The Day After Tomorrow.
Author: Nick Greenslade The Sunday Times Read full article as published: The Sunday Times
Read another recent article about Zak, The making of Zak Crawley: 'I wanted to play for England my whole life really. That was always my goal'
Author: Tim Wigmore Sunday 30 August 2020, 8:00am, The Sunday Telegraph Read full article as published: The Telegraph