Zak Crawley: England opener ‘doesn’t care’ about online criticism of Test selection
Zak Crawley says he “doesn’t care” about online criticism over his selection in England’s Test team.
The opener, who on Tuesday was named in the squad to play Ireland, is not on social media, which he said helps him block out “outside noise”.
The 25-year-old said he now tries to “care less” about end results when batting and follow the ethos of his hero, snooker great Ronnie O’Sullivan.
“I never see any of that [online criticism],” he told BBC Sport.
“I talk to guys who do have social media and they see that. They see Joe Bloggs having a go at them.
“[Being off] social media helps me get away from the average punter and what they have to say which, of course, I don’t care anyway.”
Crawley was first picked for England in 2020 aged 21 despite a modest first-class record.
His 33-match Test career has included significant highs, including 267 against Pakistan in 2020, but runs of low scores.
“At times last year I certainly felt I was getting a lot of scrutiny, some of it unwarranted,” he said, while admitting he had “not performed as well as others”.
“I was playing OK and getting decent scores and I was still getting scrutiny, but it is easy to comment,” he added.
In the County Championship this year Crawley has scored 350 runs at an average of 38.88, including 170 against Essex, and was named in the squad to play Ireland from 1 June, England’s only match before the Ashes begins on 16 June.
“I obviously definitely still see the pundits and the people higher up in cricket and of course I didn’t have to read the papers to know my place was under scrutiny,” he said.
“I haven’t been getting the runs I should have, but I have had a few good knocks.”
The Kent batter added: “My failings in international cricket have been from putting too much pressure on myself. That is the only reason. Whenever I have gone out there with the right attitude I have done well.
“I have done a lot of thinking about my game, especially in the last couple of months. I look back at times I have played well and I take the expectation away from myself and I just try and play.
“A lot of people talk about scoring hundreds all of the time in cricket. I am coming to believe that is nonsense.
“I just want to go out there and play well and the score will come after that.”
England coach Brendon McCullum has regularly backed Crawley, despite saying his “skillset is not to be a consistent cricketer”.
“I understand completely what he means and I think people misunderstood him,” Crawley said.
“He means make sure your best is still very good. Don’t lose your best to be more consistent.
“It is fine, a couple of failures, if i can produce a 170 or a big, quick hundred.
“By being consistent sometimes you have to rein that in. I agree with that. I don’t want to lose my best knocks to be more consistent.”
‘He’s someone to emulate’ – Crawley on O’Sullivan
Crawley said he admired the mindset of O’Sullivan, who has often spoken about his relaxed manner and has won a joint-record seven world titles.
The right-hander said he plays golf to get away from the pressures of cricket but also goes running, another likeness to O’Sullivan.
“He is someone to emulate for sure – his mindset,” Crawley said.
“Funnily enough, what I was saying, I first heard that from him.
“He did an interview when he won the semi-final against Mark Selby in 2020 and they asked him if he was happy to be in the world final, and he said ‘I just want to have my cue action back’.
“I just thought it was so good. He took all of that noise away and wanted to just play well. That is what I want to do.”
Crawley’s third and most recent Test century was an impressive 122 against Pakistan in December, but he has not made a fifty in four Tests since.
“I could play brilliantly for 20 and get a good ball,” he said.
“You could play terribly for a hundred and everyone says ‘well batted’, when actually I played better for the 20. You have got to judge it off your terms.”
I’m ready if Stokes gets injured – Pope
Meanwhile, England have named batter Ollie Pope as vice-captain with immediate effect.
The 25-year-old, whose only captaincy experience has been one match for Surrey, plus England tour matches when skipper Ben Stokes has been rested, said he is ready to lead this summer if required.
“There is only one Ben Stokes,” Pope said. “I have watched how he goes about stuff closely.
“If he were to get injured I will not try to replicate exactly what he does in terms of his team talks and that kind of thing, but if it were to happen [I would] just implement the same ideas and messages.
“Fingers crossed he can stay fit, stay on the park, score his runs and take his wickets, but if required I feel in a good enough place to take over.”