• Saturday, December 02, 2023

Sports

‘England up for Oval Test’ despite Ashes blow, says Zak Crawley

Crawley has long been a target for social media abuse, even though he has long cut himself off from all networks

Zak Crawley

By: Eastern Eye

ZAK CRAWLEY has insisted hosts England will have no trouble motivating themselves for this week’s fifth Test against Australia, even though they can no longer regain the Ashes.

What had looked like being a thrilling series-decider at the Oval has had some of the edge removed, after England’s quest to draw level in the fourth Test at Old Trafford was thwarted by rain.

The home side dominated proceedings in Manchester, with Crawley’s superb 189 against world Test champions Australia the standout individual performance.

But a rain-marred draw left England 2-1 down in the series with just the fifth Test to come, and Australia – as the holders – assured of retaining the Ashes.

Nevertheless, a win for England at the Oval in the game beginning on Thursday (27) would deny Australia their first away Ashes series victory since 2001.

“We’re massively up for it,” said Crawley, the series’ leading runscorer with 385. “As Ben Stokes says, we’re building as a team. This isn’t the end just because it’s the end of the Ashes. Hopefully, it’s very much the start. I think 2-2 would be fair.”

Prior to this series, a run of low scores saw Crawley’s Test place called into question. But England captain Stokes and coach Brendon McCullum continued to back the 25-year-old opener, an ever-present player in the ‘Bazball’ era.

“I feel I’m as good a player as I have ever been. I feel good about my game,” said Crawley. “Fast bowling suits my game and the Australian attack is a quick one. I think a bit less when they’re faster.”

Crawley has long been a target for social media abuse, even though he has long cut himself off from all networks.

“I’ll be keeping myself to myself, listen to close friends and family whose opinions of me as a cricketer and a person – they’re the only opinions I care about.”

Meanwhile, England named an unchanged 14-man squad on Monday (24), with the spotlight on whether James Anderson will still be in their playing 11 come the opening day at the Oval.

Anderson’s 689 Test wickets are the most by any fast bowler, with only spinners Muttiah Muralitharan (800) and Shane Warne (708) ahead of him in the all-time list.

But in the current series the bowle, who turns 41 on Sunday (30), has taken just four wickets in three Tests at a hugely expensive average of 76.75 apiece. He took just the one wicket at Old Trafford after being rested for England’s win in the third Test at Headingley.

If Anderson is left out at the the Oval, it could mean he has made the last appearance of his celebrated Test career.

Eastern Eye

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