Zak Crawley brings new shots into England ODI and T20 bid

Zak Crawley brings new shots into England ODI and T20 bid

Zak Crawley hopes that working on his ramp and reverse-sweep can help him force his way into England’s white-ball plans, as he looks to further expand his range of shots after finishing the Ashes as their leading run-scorer.

Having scored at a strike rate of 88.72 across five Tests against Australia this summer, a shift to 100-ball cricket has not necessitated a significant change in approach. “I try to keep it pretty similar,” Crawley explained. “I play similar shots, just a bit more aggressive and probably a bit more aerial.”

Crawley models his white-ball game on James Vince, another top-order batter who relies more on placement than power and is adept at exploiting the powerplay. “I really like the way he plays. He’s a very natural player. If I can emulate him, he does really well in England and I feel like that’s quite similar to my game.

“Obviously you’ve got to keep up and the game’s getting more aggressive each year, so you try and keep up with that: I certainly feel like my game will get more aggressive as the years go on. But at the moment, it’s still about playing good shots and picking the right moments to score.”

He unfurled a ramp when facing Luke Wood on Saturday, scooping him over short fine leg for four, and is looking to expand his range of innovative shots. “I’m trying to get better at a few,” Crawley said. “[You will see] a few more sweeps, reverse-sweeps, and maybe a ramp; other than that, I just try to play the ball on its merits.”

“I don’t feel any different. I am just the bloke who scored runs a couple of weeks ago.”

Crawley says his life has not changed much since the Ashes

He used to play the ramp regularly in his early days at Kent. “I haven’t played it too much in recent times, but before I played for England, I used to play it a lot more. I’ve been trying to work on it and bring it back in a little bit more – and hopefully [it will] free up a couple of other areas to score.”

Crawley was seen practising his reverse-sweep in the nets throughout the Ashes, having initially devised a plan to use it against Nathan Lyon. He played it three times against him before Lyon’s series-ending injury, though he continued to unfurl it against Todd Murphy and Travis Head.

“Lyon gets lovely shape on the ball, so I felt like he was OK to reverse-sweep outside off,” Crawley explained, speaking at the launch of KP Snacks’ community cricket pitches initiative. “It was something I wanted to play against him. Obviously he only played two Tests in the end but hopefully, having done that work on it, it’ll come to fruition in the Hundred.”

Crawley is an unusual batter in that his output tends to improve as the bowling he faces gets quicker, rather than slower. “I know the stats say that, but it’s never too easy facing someone bowling over 90mph,” he said. “Sometimes, when someone is bowling quick and you get hold if it, it goes further.”

He believes that the reason is that a shorter reaction time allows him less time to think: “You’re just trying to react. I’m trying to keep it very simple at the moment, and maybe that’s why the quick bowling has suited me a little bit more in the past, because I don’t have to think as much. I’ll just have to get better at playing the 80mph stuff…”

As the Ashes fades into memory, Crawley says his life has not changed: “I don’t feel any different. I am just the bloke who scored runs a couple of weeks ago; if I don’t score runs in the Hundred, I’ll be a bloke who doesn’t score runs in the Hundred. It’s a very fickle world we live in, so I don’t get carried away too much.

“Obviously I think back with fondness about how cool it was to play in it, but I don’t like to dwell too much on whether [a series] has gone well or badly – I just move onto the next one. If it comes into my mind, I enjoy the memories of it, but I’m very much focused on doing well in the Hundred now.”

Matt Roller is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. @mroller98

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