Zak Crawley eyes England white-ball opportunity after breakthrough Test year

PCA Young Player of the Year reveals ambition to make impact across all formats

Matt Roller
Matt Roller
Zak Crawley is chuffed after converting his maiden hundred into a double, England v Pakistan, 3rd Test, Southampton, 2nd day, August 22, 2020

Zak Crawley turned his maiden Test hundred into a mammoth 267  •  Getty Images

Zak Crawley has revealed his intentions to play limited-overs cricket for England after a breakthrough Test summer, but accepts that he will have to bang the door down by scoring heavily over the next few seasons to secure a place in the "phenomenal" white-ball sides.
Crawley, voted PCA Young Player of the Year by his peers after racking up 417 Test runs this summer - including a watershed 267 in the third Test against Pakistan - scored his first T20 hundred in September, and his overall white-ball numbers are impressive at this stage of his fledgling career.
He is set to be confirmed as London Spirit's centrally-contracted Test player in the Hundred next week after winning a red-ball England deal for 2020-21, and said that scoring heavily in that competition would help him press his case for inclusion.
"I would certainly love to play in the white-ball stuff, but it's a phenomenal team," Crawley said. "There are some great players who aren't in the squad either, who are all trying to get in. It's going to require a lot of runs on my part, but I am going to do my best to score those runs.
"It all depends on how many runs I can score for Kent in white-ball cricket. Hopefully the Hundred goes ahead next year and if I can score some good runs in that over the coming years, who knows down the line?"
Crawley insisted that Test cricket remains that "most important" format as far as he was concerned, but conceded that other young players may no longer share that view, with the opportunity to play in short-form tournaments around the world as well as for their counties.
With Jason Roy, Jonny Bairstow and - in T20 - Jos Buttler secure in their roles, and so many talented top-order batsmen waiting in the wings, Crawley also said that he had viewed the Test XI as the easiest one to get into - though that may have changed with Rory Burns and Dom Sibley also securing central contracts last week and nailing down their places.
"It was probably the easiest side to get into out of the three," he said. "It's still obviously not easy to get into the Test side, but it probably did seem like the most doable at that time. It was always a big goal of mine to play Test cricket as well.
"For me, it's the best format: other people's opinions change but for me, it's the most important format and it was definitely something I always wanted to do. When you're a young kid, you always talk about playing Test cricket; the white-ball stuff comes after that, maybe, in your thought process.
"It might have changed [for other players] now, to be honest. Winning the World Cup last year, that looked like a good time to be round the England squad so maybe views have changed now - maybe that might have taken over.
"The way T20 has really built the game up again, the IPL - unfortunately we missed out on the Hundred this year [but] these are great things to be part of. Maybe young cricketers might be more enticed by that, and I wouldn't blame them, but for me, Test cricket is still number one."
Reflecting on his summer - and his award - Crawley said that he felt as though he had been pushed on account of the competition for places within the England side, among young players in particular.
"It's really special," he said. "If you had asked me in March or April if we were going to have a season, I'd have probably said no. so to get the summer we have had and thankfully to get some runs has been great.
"It's great to have such great young players around - I definitely feel like it pushes me on as a player. You can't help but try and compare yourself to your peers, but obviously there are some young lads who have been having some unbelievable years.
"That's definitely made me want to work harder, and made me want to catch them up. That's all I've tried to do. Long may it continue that we have a really strong young group of cricketers in the country: it's good for the whole game in general that we keep pushing each other forward."
The first NatWest Cricket Awards, a combination of the PCA Awards and NatWest OSCAs, honours both the community cricket club heroes and professional stars of the season in one event that will celebrate the game from the ground up in recognition of an extraordinary year for the sport

Matt Roller is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. He tweets at @mroller98