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Calls to take Zak Crawley out of firing line after disappointing innings during South Africa test

For Zak Crawley, the prospect of a big test inning has become a matter of hope beyond expectations – and even hope has nearly left town.

When he was beaten by Kagiso Rabada in the opening hour of this LV=Insurance series against South Africa and caught by Aiden Markam on the second slip for nine, it was the 24th time in 47 test innings that he had failed. the sun-drenched highlands of double digits.

Seven more times he failed to reach 20. Only seven times has he passed 50. In the history of English Test batting, only Mike Brearley has averaged lower than Crawley’s 26 among the regular members of the top six.

England batsman Zak Crawley scored just nine runs in the first innings of the Test with South Africa

England batsman Zak Crawley scored just nine runs in the first innings of the Test with South Africa

South Africa bowler Kagiso Rabada celebrates Crawley's resignation at Lord's on Wednesday

South Africa bowler Kagiso Rabada celebrates Crawley's resignation at Lord's on Wednesday

South Africa bowler Kagiso Rabada celebrates Crawley’s resignation at Lord’s on Wednesday

Whichever way you slice and dice him, his test career is now in the lap of the Bazball gods – Ben Stokes and Brendon McCullum, who remain true to the idea that a butterfly can still emerge from the pupa.

They could be right, and the events of this summer’s first four Tests against New Zealand and India have given the two high-rollers of England’s red-ball revolution credit on the bench.

But Mark Butcher, who has commented on Sky, spoke for many when he suggested it was now more cruel to keep choosing Crawley than letting him out. Week in, week out, he undergoes a very public humiliation, with thank goodness the consequences.

Part of the Stokes/McCullum ethos is to make the players feel “three meters tall”, which explains why Stokes referred to Crawley’s second inning 46 second inning 46 against India in Edgbaston for this game at Edgbaston. Without his record-quick centenary with Alex Lees, Stokes said, England wouldn’t have chased 378.

England captain Ben Stokes has been quick to remind people of Crawley's wealth

England captain Ben Stokes has been quick to remind people of Crawley's wealth

England captain Ben Stokes has been quick to remind people of Crawley’s wealth

He had a point, and his man-management skills were a big part of his team’s early success – witness the transformations of Ollie Pope and Jack Leach. But there will come a point when Crawley’s 267 against Pakistan in the Ageas Bowl two years ago and his 121 against the West Indies in Antigua in March will no longer be relevant.

Many observers feel that point has already been reached, although there is always the second innings in this Lord’s Test for Crawley to turn his sporadically sharp stroke play into something more meaningful.

But if he fails again, the continued omission of Harry Brook – who is averaging over 100 in the county championship for Yorkshire, and hit 140 out of 170 balls against the South Africans for England Lions last week in Canterbury at Canterbury – will be even more perverted. to feel.

Stokes’ England has already experienced slumps before dropping to 116 to six on a rainy first day at Lord’s. But the new captain has yet to get through the unpleasant feeling of actually dropping a player.

Bail flies as Crawley loses his wicket for 46 runs in England Test with India at Edgbaston

Bail flies as Crawley loses his wicket for 46 runs in England Test with India at Edgbaston

Bail flies as Crawley loses his wicket for 46 runs in England Test with India at Edgbaston

In short, Crawley looked like he had learned from his many lessons about the danger of excessive rides outside the stump. Lungi Ngidi made sure he didn’t play with the new ball often enough, and when he overcompensated by aiming straighter, Crawley timed him with typical attractiveness between the stumps and halfway through.

But his only other scoring shot was an unintentional four-to-third man through Rabada’s lead. The next ball he was gone, the edge this time in the briefs.

The question remains whether Crawley is a puzzle waiting to be solved, or a project that is no longer worth pursuing.

Certainly his first-class average doesn’t encourage optimism: it recently plunged below 30, in a summer in which he scored 388 runs in 16 championship innings for Kent – a return boosted by 84 against Northamptonshire’s swap bowlers on a hopelessly flat field at Wantage away.

England's assistant coach Paul Collingwood has also defended Crawley's recent torrid spell

England's assistant coach Paul Collingwood has also defended Crawley's recent torrid spell

England’s assistant coach Paul Collingwood has also defended Crawley’s recent torrid spell

But England, it seems, is not turning around. After the premature closure, assistant coach Paul Collingwood said that for Crawley “the message is very clear.”

He added: “We don’t necessarily look for consistency with Zak. It’s about competition-winning performance and being able to do extraordinary things. An innings ago, he had a hundred partnerships against India. We don’t forget those contributions in our dressing room.

“He has a lot of talent and I’m sure he’s frustrated that he doesn’t get more points. But we’re confident he can turn things around and have those match-winning contributions.”

The process, as they say, continues.

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