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'Just not fearing them' - Zak Crawley's plan to succeed against Australia quicks

England batter believes that some of his team-mates haven't been in the right "headspace" to get the runs expected of them

Andrew McGlashan
Andrew McGlashan
02-Jan-2022
Zak Crawley leaves the field after being dismissed by Mitchell Starc, Melbourne, December 27, 2021

Zak Crawley: "I haven't played my best cricket. I actually feel in a really good place with my batting"  •  Cricket Australia via Getty Images

Zak Crawley has conceded that some of England's batters may have been overawed in the Ashes series but believes the last two Tests could start a rebuilding process.
England were blown away for 185 and 68 in the Melbourne Test as the Ashes were lost inside 12 days. They have not passed 300 in the series so far, are yet to score a century, and in 2021 the side equalled their record of 54 ducks in a calendar year.
Crawley was thrust into the side for the Boxing Day Test at the expense of Rory Burns, having barely batted since the end of the English season because of the disrupted preparations in Australia. He made 12 and 5, taking his Test record for the year to 173 runs at 10.81, and termed the second evening against Mitchell Starc and Pat Cummins as the toughest period he had ever faced.
"Just not fearing them," Crawley said when asked about how England could counter Australia's attack. "I feel like quite a few of us on our first Ashes tour maybe we were a bit wary of them when there's no need to be.
"It's a great place to bat even though they are great bowlers, some of them are the best in the world, but when you get in as Rooty [Joe Root] and [Dawid] Malan have shown, they look very comfortable at times. I'm certainly going to do that this game, [play with a] bit more confidence, because I know full well that I can score a hundred here this week."
Overall in his first-class career Crawley, who made his mark with 267 against Pakistan in 2020, has five centuries from 66 matches and an average of 30.91. Graham Thorpe, England's assistant coach who is filling in for Chris Silverwood this week because of the head coach's Covid-19-related isolation, spoke last week about the gap between county and Test cricket and that England's batting had been exposed on this tour.
"I learned that there were certain balls [in Melbourne] I could leave where in England you have to play and I'll try and do that better this week. It's great chance to start again and build up the side into a better place"
Zak Crawley
"Everyone has seen the talent that our batters have shown over the last few years," Crawley said. "We've all got the talent to score big runs in Test cricket, you just have to get in the right headspace to perform like that. Feel like that's where we've gone slightly wrong, haven't been in the right headspace, but physically and talent-wise there's no question that we can score big hundreds over here."
Crawley admitted he had not had a good year in 2021 but argued there were some extenuating circumstances and also walked away from his Melbourne examination with a positive reflection.
"That evening with the crowd, it didn't go my way but I look back on that with quite a few fond memories," he said. "Special to be a part of. Fair play, they bowled well, but hopefully I can have a good week this week.
"I haven't played my best cricket. I actually feel in a really good place with my batting. Those stats [averaging 10] are misleading sometimes. I've never experienced anything like playing in India, if I scored 10 it felt like a good score, then I didn't feel in great touch in summer and all of a sudden you are averaging 10.
"I'm hoping it will be a slightly flatter wicket here [Sydney, for the fourth Test], it usually is, [Melbourne] offered quite a bit. I learned that there were certain balls I could leave where in England you have to play and I'll try and do that better this week. It's great chance to start again and build up the side into a better place."

Andrew McGlashan is a deputy editor at ESPNcricinfo