Zak Crawley has retrained his sights on becoming an all-formats cricketer for England amid a determination to prove his breakthrough Test double-century against Pakistan this summer was no one-off.
The 22-year-old returned to Kent with his confidence bolstered by the epic 267 he compiled during the third Test in Southampton, blazing a trail during the T20 Blast group stage to help set up a quarter-final against Surrey on Thursday.
Innings such as the unbeaten 108 from 54 balls against Hampshire – once again at the Rose Bowl, having also made 105 at Canterbury in the Bob Willis Trophy earlier in September – point to an adaptability and, a year on from his initial Test call-up, Crawley is thinking big.
“I don’t want to be a one-hit wonder,” said Crawley, who has averaged 41.87 in the T20 Blast, with a strike-rate of 158. “Hopefully I can get a few more scores in the future and not waste the talent that I have been given.
“It’s definitely an ambition of mine to play white-ball cricket for England. It is probably the best team in the world and very hard to get into, so I need a lot more runs for Kent to even warrant being talked about.
“If you’d asked me a year ago, my ambition was solely Test cricket, but now I’ve played a bit of Test cricket, I want to play more of that and hopefully white-ball down the line. But it’s going to require a lot more hard work.”
Hard work has been a hallmark of Crawley’s career to date and the question now is whether this – plus the small matter of his nine-hour double-hundred against Pakistan – is rewarded when England name their latest set of contracted players next week.
Crawley said: “I haven’t heard anything. I suppose it is on my mind a little bit. But maybe once this T20 stuff has finished, I can start thinking about those things a bit more. To be an England player, officially, would be great. At the same time if I don’t get one, it’s back to the drawing-board. But it won’t change how I play.”
The eagle-eyed will have noticed that Crawley sports the colours of the Lord’s Taverners on his bat grip, having initially borrowed some from his teammate Joe Denly during the winter to give the charity extra exposure before he was approached to become an official ambassador.
His runs now generate sponsorship money for youth and disability cricket – the 267 was worth £1,281 alone – but he will be happily supporting from the sidelines next month when fundraiser Lloyd Scott attempts the Three Peaks challenge wearing a 130lb diving suit.
Crawley is putting his growing profile to good use here but it will not tempt him to sign up to social media, having decided to remain one of the few England cricketers without a public presence on either Twitter or Instagram.
He said: “I think I’m better off off it. For me personally, the cons of what you might see on there outweigh the pros. The time spent on your phone might drain your energy or take away from other things I might do too. I just want to stay on the straight and narrow and it might pull me away from that.”
It is the kind of grounded approach that persuaded England to look past a modest first-class average when first selecting the 6ft 5in Crawley for last winter’s New Zealand tour and, though his goals may have broadened since, it appears to remain unaffected.
Crawley added: “I always believed in myself. But hopefully people can now see that I can play a bit. I feel I have a solid game but I can improve and that’s what I’m going to try and do. If you’re not getting better then you’re getting worse, as they say, so it is about getting back in the nets and improving.”
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