Former captain Michael Vaughan has suggested that if Zak Crawley continues to fail as a Test opener for England, then skipper Ben Stokes should open the batting in the first Ashes Test at Edgbaston against Australia.
England start their home summer with a one-off Test against Ireland at the Lord’s from June 1, followed by the Ashes starting from June 16. Crawley, 25, saw an early high in Test cricket through a fantastic 267 against Pakistan at the Ageas Bowl in 2020.
But overall, the right-hander has not set the Test cricket stage on fire despite continued backing from Stokes and head coach Brendon McCullum, averaging just 27.60 across 33 matches. Moreover, since Stokes took over as Test skipper, Crawley has averaged just 25.86 in 12 matches.
“I think Zak Crawley needs a score and he should be given licence to step back from the general batting free-for-all to be a bit selfish. He does not need the noise to be all about him going into Edgbaston for the first Ashes Test later next month. The only way to silence that is to score a hundred, so if it takes 170 balls, then do it.”
“He needs to think about himself. England will win the Test match, no question, but sometimes as a player you have to look inward and be a little bit selfish. The talk of Ben Stokes opening in his place may not have been too serious before they picked this squad, but if Crawley continues to fail then there might be something in it,” wrote Vaughan in his column for The Sunday Telegraph.
In the County Championship Division One season so far, Crawley has scored 403 runs in six matches at an average of 36.63, including one century and two fifties.
“If Crawley gets the chance to open the batting he has to get a score and, let’s be honest, he may well get only one knock against Ireland. If it means seeing off the new ball, playing for his off stump rather than dancing down and whacking it at five or six an over, then he should go ahead and do it.”
“There are not many players in the history of Ashes cricket who have gone into a series against Australia with their place questioned and come through. The pressure escalates and can become unbearable.”
“So the only team Crawley has to think about is Zak Crawley. England will say they are backing him but let’s see if that is the case if they lose the first Test at Edgbaston. It is easy to back someone when you are winning so many games, less so if you lose,” concluded Vaughan.