Zak Crawley has no intention of becoming a “one-hit wonder” in Test cricket and is already plotting a fitting Sri Lankan follow-up to last summer’s career-altering double century.
The Kent batsman, 22, hit a magnificent 267 against Pakistan on his previous England appearance in August – more than tripling his previous best of 76 in one visit to the crease and ruthlessly turning a maiden hundred into his country’s 10th highest score of all time.
By the time he steps out to face Sri Lanka on January 14, for the first of two back-to-back Tests in Galle, almost five months will have passed since.
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Highlights of his fluent innings occupied a lofty place in many of English cricket’s end-of-year retrospectives and his stock has risen accordingly, but Crawley has resolved not to live on past glories.
“You never really know you can score a Test hundred until you get one, it’s kind of a monkey on your back until you get it, but now I know I can hopefully build on that,” he said.
“It is very early days but I don’t want to be a one-hit wonder, get a big score and then fade away. Hopefully I can secure my place and I’m not going to be living off that innings for too long.”
Crawley joined the rest of the England squad in a belated first practice session of the trip on Wednesday, having spent three full days in room-based quarantine in Hambantota following Moeen Ali’s positive Covid-19 test.
Moeen, who has begun to show mild symptoms and fatigue, has been isolated from the rest of the group but not moved to Galle as initially planned after the available private accommodation was deemed unacceptable.
The remainder of the travelling party tested negative after their latest round of PCR swabs and were allowed to engage in what the England and Wales Cricket Board termed ‘controlled training’.
Only Chris Woakes, who has been identified as a close contact of Moeen’s, was kept away as he observes a seven-day quarantine.
Sri Lanka vs England
January 14, 2021, 4:00am
“I think they (Moeen and Woakes) are doing well. Obviously it’s massively frustrating for them and I feel for them,” said Crawley.
“I’m sure they’ll be good when they come out the other side. The other lads were pretty keen to get out there after days in quarantine and we’re really enjoying it.”
England will attempt an intra-squad warm-up game on Friday in a bid to step up their preparations, during which Crawley can expect to receive confirmation that he is standing in as opening batsman.
Dom Sibley’s regular partner Rory Burns is back home awaiting the birth of his first child, pressing Crawley back up to new-ball duties. He is versatile and willing enough to do so and has headed the innings frequently in county cricket.
Even so, he hinted at a slight preference for life one place further down.
“I would say three is my favoured position. When I was young I wanted to bat three and all my heroes batted three. Then I got a good score at three,” he said.
“I quite like the way it worked where I had a little chance to think about the innings before I went in, it was something I hadn’t done in a while with doing a lot of opening. But it means a lot to play for England and if they want me to open then I will open. If they want me at six, I’ll bat six, but if I get a choice then maybe I’d bat three.”
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As well as his starring role in England’s previous Test, Crawley also notched a century in Colombo in the final warm-up match of last year’s abandoned tour. He is, therefore, firmly on Sri Lanka’s radar heading into the series proper, a new pressure he feels relaxed about bearing.
He explained: “When you are out of nick you can be the most average player in the world not matter how good you’ve been in the past and when you are in nick you can feel pretty good. It’s a humbling game so you shouldn’t get ahead of yourself.”
Watch the first Test between Sri Lanka and England, from Galle, live on Sky Sports Cricket from 4am on Thursday, January 14.
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