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Zak Crawley has hit an epic 267 against Pakistan … but doesn’t want to go down as a one-off hit

A month after the innings that changed his life, Zak Crawley dares to think about the future. He has plans, of course: an ECB test contract would be nice, as well as a place in England’s mighty white-ball teams.

Most of all, though, he knows what he doesn’t want to do: rest on the laurels of his epic 267 against Pakistan in the Ageas Bowl – an innings that propelled him to the sacred list of English test batsmen’s top ten scores.

And it’s truly sacred: Crawley’s is only the third innings of the past 55 years to appear on it, following Graham Gooch’s 333 at Lord’s in 1990 and Alastair Cook’s 294 at Edgbaston in 2011, both against India.

Zak Crawley had the innings of his career with an epic 267 against Pakistan in the Ageas Bowl

Zak Crawley had the innings of his career with an epic 267 against Pakistan in the Ageas Bowl

A less grounded character than Crawley may feel overwhelmed by the weight of history. But even at the age of 22, he seems to have things in proportion.

“Some of the players on that list are really great,” he says. ‘I don’t see myself anywhere near where they are, so it’s very humiliating.

‘But I don’t want to be a one-hit wonder. Hopefully in the future I can get a few more scores and not waste the talent I have been given. ‘

To his credit, the comment does not sound remotely arrogant – wisely, because deep in the record books lurk a warning.

Few have heard of Reginald ‘Tip’ Foster, the only English batsman whose maiden was a hundred higher than Crawley’s. But that’s partly because after making 287 on the Test debut in Sydney in 1903-04, Foster never got three digits again.

Then there’s the experience of Crawley’s friend and mentor Rob Key, who hit 221 against the West Indies at Lord’s in 2004 – his only Testton, single or double. The topic brings out Crawley’s inner diplomat.

“Rob was a phenomenal player, and I would love to be as good as him one day. I think he was extremely unlucky in his career. As Andrew Flintoff has said, he was probably the best player to have never played 100 Tests for England. ‘

England's newest star is out to make sure he isn't a one-hit wonder at Test level

England's newest star is out to make sure he isn't a one-hit wonder at Test level

England’s newest star is out to make sure he isn’t a one-hit wonder at Test level

Crawley is coached by former England cricketer and Sky Sports expert Rob Key (above)

Crawley is coached by former England cricketer and Sky Sports expert Rob Key (above)

Crawley is coached by former England cricketer and Sky Sports expert Rob Key (above)

It’s hard to imagine Crawley suffering the same fate as Foster and Key. And because he has already been impeached, he is not about to give voters another excuse.

He had made zero and eleven as England’s new No. 3 against the West Indies in Manchester in July, then was dropped for two games as Ben Stokes injured his thigh and had to play as a specialist batsman. An extra bowler came in – and Crawley got out.

Had Stokes not flown to New Zealand after the first test against Pakistan to be with his father Ged, who had been diagnosed with brain cancer, Crawley’s second chance might not have occurred at all.

“ After that test game at Old Trafford … I don’t want to say I was low, but I was very disappointed to be kicked off, and I felt like I might not be playing test cricket in the summer, ” he says. “I was given a chance in very unfortunate circumstances, where Ben had to go home, and luckily I took advantage.”

Crawley (right) was boosted by the absence of Ben Stokes (left) from the later Pakistan Tests

Crawley (right) was boosted by the absence of Ben Stokes (left) from the later Pakistan Tests

Crawley (right) was boosted by the absence of Ben Stokes (left) from the later Pakistan Tests

If regrets remain, it is that he failed to become England’s first triple centurion since Gooch, when he was finally put off the part-time off-spin of Asad Shafiq.

Had there been 300 on his mind? ‘Actually, it wasn’t until I got to 250 – and then I played a pretty big chance. Jos [Buttler] came up to me and said, “You’re not far from 300 here, keep going.” And so I tried to go again, but unfortunately got out. I probably should have fought a bit more and went for it because I’m not sure how many more chances I have to get to get 300. ‘

It’s the kind of regret that most Test batsmen would settle for, but the good news is that a return to the county ranks hasn’t robbed Crawley of his lead.

He scored 335 runs on 41 – including an undefeated century against Hampshire – as Kent advanced to the quarter-finals of the T20 Blast, while his 158 success rate was the club’s highest. And he earned another hundred, also against Hampshire, in the Bob Willis Trophy.

Crawley is in great shape for Kent and hit a century in the Bob Willis Trophy against Hampshire

Crawley is in great shape for Kent and hit a century in the Bob Willis Trophy against Hampshire

Crawley is in great shape for Kent and hit a century in the Bob Willis Trophy against Hampshire

In any case, the double century of the Test has sparked an inner faith that needed a boost when he was selected for the New Zealand England tour a year ago, armed with a modest first-class average of 30.

“I definitely have more confidence in myself,” he says. ‘I’ve been selected as a prospect in Test cricket, rather than on my stats, so I can imagine a few people across the country – not that I’m paying too much attention to what people think – saying,’ Is he good? ? “

‘You always have doubts and you try to put on a brave face, stick out your chest. But I heard Alastair Cook say he had doubts even on his last few games. So I’m glad I got that score in Test cricket and can justify that performance. I’ve always believed in myself. But hopefully people can see that I can play a little. ‘

Crawley wants to earn a central contract from Test to make him an England player permanently

Crawley wants to earn a central contract from Test to make him an England player permanently

Crawley wants to earn a central contract from Test to make him an England player permanently

The innings had another important advantage. As an ambassador for the Lord’s Taverners charity, Crawley has been sponsored through the Runs for Change initiative at a cost of £ 4.80 per run.

The 267 alone made the charity nearly £ 1,300; With the help of others, including England’s ladies’ captain Heather Knight, the Taverners hope to end the summer with a five-figure figure.

So what now for Crawley? First comes Thursday’s T20 quarter-final against in-form Surrey at The Oval, where he will have the chance to show off his prowess against the cue ball. Playing limited-overs cricket for England, he says, is ‘definitely a goal of mine’ – although he acknowledges getting into it isn’t an easy team.

Then there’s the goal of winning a Test Central contract, with everything that comes with it, both financially – each is worth nearly £ 700,000 – and psychologically: “Being an English player officially would be great.”

Crawley's Kent Spitfires will take on Surrey in the T20 quarterfinals at the Oval on Thursday

Crawley's Kent Spitfires will take on Surrey in the T20 quarterfinals at the Oval on Thursday

Crawley’s Kent Spitfires will take on Surrey in the T20 quarterfinals at the Oval on Thursday

Despite all that, Crawley doesn’t want to lead the way – not easy when the claustrophobic nature of this bio-safe summer meant the expert analysis was more investigative than ever, and the cleanliness of his stroke play was praised to the utmost.

It may be revealing that he is not on Twitter – unique among his English teammates. And so far, his willful distance from the noise of social media has served him well.

‘I think I’m in better shape. There are advantages: some guys use it well. For me personally, the disadvantages of what you might see there outweigh the benefits. The time you spend on your phone could take away your energy or take away other things I could do. I just want to stay on the straight and narrow, and it might pull me away from that. ‘

English cricket should be grateful for this old head on young shoulders.

Lord’s Taverners Ambassador Zak Crawley is supporting Lloyd Scott’s fundraising challenge to complete the famous 3 Peaks Challenge, wearing a 130lb deep-sea diving suit starting October 4. Visit www.lordstaverners.org to make a donation.

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