Crawley blames England's county pitches for his low batting average

Zak Crawley blames the ‘poor’ quality of England’s county pitches for his lowly first-class batting average of 31 as he insists surfaces are a ‘country-wide problem’ – with Test side yet to reach 300 in Ashes series in Australia

  • Zak Crawley has reignited one of most contentious debates in English cricket 
  • He blamed quality of county pitches for lowly first-class batting average of 31
  • Crawley gave his Test career a shot in the arm on Sunday by making attractive 77
  • But said surfaces were ‘a country-wide problem’ that was not helping Test team

Zak Crawley has reignited one of the most contentious debates in English cricket by blaming the quality of county pitches for his lowly first-class batting average of 31.

Crawley gave his Test career a shot in the arm on Sunday by making an attractive 77 at the start of the final day at Sydney, which ended with England’s last pair hanging on for a gripping draw. 

But he said there was no point leaving Kent in search of a better surface because the malaise was ‘a country-wide problem’ that was not helping the Test team.

Zak Crawley blamed the quality of county pitches for his lowly first-class batting average of 31

Going into Friday’s fifth and final Ashes Test in Tasmania, England are yet to reach 300 on this trip. And in the last 11 months alone, they have been dismissed for fewer than 200 on 13 occasions – including for 68 in the second innings at Melbourne.

While some may argue that England should expect little else when they field a top three – Haseeb Hameed, Crawley himself and Dawid Malan – who all possess Test averages in the twenties, Crawley feels the national side are being ill-served by the domestic game.

Asked why he was only averaging in the low-30s after 116 first-class innings, he replied: ‘I think it’s the fact I’ve batted on poor pitches really my whole Championship career. I feel like it’s been very hard to open the batting. 

Crawley said English pitches were ‘a country-wide problem’ that was not helping the Test team

‘At my best, I’ve obviously shown something the England selectors have enjoyed. So I got picked with an average of 30, but there aren’t too many openers averaging a lot more than that at the moment.

‘The pitches have been very favourable to bowlers my whole career so far so until that changes… I feel like the average is a little bit lower than I’d like. I think 34-35 is a very good average for an opener these days, and that’s something that’s very different from 10 years ago.

‘Obviously I’d like the pitch at Canterbury to be a little bit better. I don’t think it’s unfair of me to say. But I don’t think it’s just a Kent thing: I think pretty much all the grounds I’ve played on have been pretty poor. 

‘It’d be tough for me to find somewhere maybe a bit flatter. It’s more a country-wide problem, and I think it will help our Test team a lot if pitches did start getting better.’

Crawley gave his Test career a shot in the arm on Sunday by making an attractive 77 in Sydney

Before the Sydney Test, Crawley, who is likely to open with Rory Burns in Hobart – England’s third different opening partnership of the series – had taken to watching replays of his 267 against Pakistan at the Ageas Bowl in August 2020 in a bid to remind himself he could hack it at the top level.

He averaged 10 from 16 Test innings in 2021, raising concerns that his double-century had been the exception, not the rule.

But Crawley said: ‘You tend to learn more from your failures than your successes, and it wasn’t the year I wanted. We played some great opposition on some really tough pitches, so I wasn’t too hard on myself.

‘I watch that innings frequently when I’m going through bad form, because it is a nice reminder that I’ve done it before and I can do it again. Sometimes you can lose sight of the fact that you can play. I played really nicely that day, but I feel like I’m a better player now, and that’s because of the failures I had last year.’

But England are yet to reach 300 against Australia going into Friday’s fifth and final Ashes Test

Most of the England team played golf on Tuesday, though Chris Woakes opted to have a bowl in a bid to force his way back into the side for the second of the series’ pink-ball Tests. 

With Ollie Robinson likely to return from a shoulder niggle, probably in place of James Anderson, the inclusion of Woakes – whose two Tests here have brought him three wickets at 76 – may depend on whether England select spinner Jack Leach.

Meanwhile, Australia are waiting to see whether seamer Scott Boland, whose first two Tests have brought him 14 wickets at eight apiece, will be fit in time for Hobart after elbowing himself in the ribs as he tumbled to the ground after delivering a ball on the final day at the SCG.

Boland is understood to be mulling over offers to play county cricket next summer, with a view to returning to England for Australia’s defence of the Ashes in 2023.




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