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Zak Crawley 'doesn't care' about social media critics after Test retention

Opener says to be judged by hundreds scored is 'nonsense'

Zak Crawley struck a 36-ball half-century, England vs South Africa, 3rd Test, 4th day, The Oval, September 11, 2022

Zak Crawley's moments of fluency have been eye-catching but intermittent  •  Getty Images

Zak Crawley says he doesn't care about criticism over his continued selection, after the opener was announced as one of 15 names for the first Test of the summer against Ireland, which takes place on June 1 ahead of the Ashes.
While the major talking point was the axing of wicketkeeper Ben Foakes for the returning Jonny Bairstow, an offshoot was the presence of Crawley. Foakes' omission came after the selectors could not find a way to fit both him and Bairstow into the same XI. One option mooted ahead of Tuesday's squad announcement was to make space in the middle order by shifting either Bairstow, Harry Brook or even Ben Stokes up to open instead of Crawley. However, managing director Rob Key revealed such a move was not considered.
As such, Crawley's position was safe, sparking a wave of angst on social media lambasting the decision taken to retain him, ultimately, at Foakes' expense. Speaking on Tuesday, Crawley, who is not on social media, dismissed the talk around him and believes some of the criticism has been unfair.
"I never see any of that [online criticism]," Crawley told BBC Sport.
"I talk to guys who do have social media and they see that. They see Joe Bloggs having a go at them.
"[Being off] social media helps me get away from the average punter and what they have to say which, of course, I don't care anyway.
"At times last year I certainly felt I was getting a lot of scrutiny, some of it unwarranted. I was playing okay and getting decent scores and I was still getting scrutiny, but it is easy to comment.
"I obviously definitely still see the pundits and the people higher up in cricket and of course I didn't have to read the papers to know my place was under scrutiny.
"I haven't been getting the runs I should have, but I have had a few good knocks."
The 25-year-old averages just 27.60 across 33 caps, and just 25.86 in 12 matches since Stokes took over as Test captain at the start of last summer. In that time, he has just one hundred and two half-centuries across 23 innings, along with 11 single-digit scores.
Stokes and head coach Brendon McCullum have repeatedly defended Crawley's poor returns, stating he is a batter whose skillset "is not to be a consistent cricketer", as McCullum put it at the end of last summer.
That has played out in the County Championship so far. Crawley has played all five of Kent's Division One games this season, scoring 350 runs at an average of 38.88. A bumper 170 against Essex and two half-centuries have come amid numerous false starts, including two ducks.
Crawley cedes he has not performed as he would have liked for England. After some introspection, he believes he is better equipped to deal with the mental rigours, particularly when it comes to assessing his own performance. Part of that, he says, is coming to the belief that judging his output on centuries is "nonsense". Crawley has three at Test level, the last of which came against Pakistan in December.
"My failings in international cricket have been from putting too much pressure on myself. That is the only reason. Whenever I have gone out there with the right attitude I have done well.
"I have done a lot of thinking about my game, especially in the last couple of months. I look back at times I have played well and I take the expectation away from myself and I just try and play.
"A lot of people talk about scoring hundreds all of the time in cricket. I am coming to believe that is nonsense.
"I just want to go out there and play well and the score will come after that.
"I could play brilliantly for 20 and get a good ball. You could play terribly for a hundred and everyone says 'well batted', when actually I played better for the 20. You have got to judge it off your terms."