Crawley on competing with Denly
Crawley on competing with Denly

Zak Crawley has been talking to KSN about “competing” with his Kent team-mate mate and friend Joe Denly for a place in the Second Test against the West Indies at Old Trafford on Thursday.

“I found it all really tough if I’m honest,” Crawley admitted when we spoke to him on Wednesday, “It’s been horrible going up against a good friend of mine, and I do wish Joe all the best!”

“I have to admit that if I hadn’t been picked, I’d have been very pleased for Joe, but of course I’m pleased to have been picked as it’s another chance to play for England, but I’m gutted for Joe with the same respect as he’s deserves his place in the side – he’s been very good for England over the last year and a half and he is a fine player whatever happens – I’m sure we’ll be good friends at the end of it!”

Crawley top scored in England’s second innings in the First Test defeat. “It was nice to score some runs even though it was very disappointing to lose the game,” Crawley said.

“Not getting the hundred that would have put us in a stronger position going into the game’s fourth innings, but it’s always nice to score fifty for England and I was pleased with the way that I played and the tempo that I played with, but it would have meant more to me to have won the game!”

“I felt that there was a hundred there that I could have got, and if I could have batted for another ten or fifteen overs or so… There were times when it felt quite easy to bat and there were times when it felt really hard to bat – next time I’ll be much more pleased with a hundred.”

Supporters will again be absent in Manchester, and Crawley told us what it was like to play in an empty stadium. “I didn’t find it too strange to be honest,” he said, “usually in build-up and the warm up when the crowd starts gathering that’s when you get the energy from the crowd really, but when the first ball is bowled you concentrate on what you’re trying to do.”

“It was the same at Southampton – we were focused on the game at hand and it didn’t really feel too different to be honest and hopefully everyone watching at home felt the same! I’ve only played a couple of Test matches in front of big crowds – pretty much my whole career so far has been played in front of not very big crowds, so I’m pretty used to that kind of thing!”

“There’s no doubt that the West Indies attack is a very good attack – they’ve got a nice balance between a bit of pace and a bit slower more accurate skills; they’ve got a very balanced attack with a lot of experience and they back themselves. They’ve been successful for a couple of years now.”

Kent team mate Joe Denly has sadly been left out of the squad after some pretty fierce comments in the media since the end of the Southampton test – comments that Crawley thought were tough; “I don’t think that the comments made since the weekend will get to Joe – he’s got a very stable head on his shoulders – even if he had seen any of it I’m sure he’ll have taken it with a pinch of salt.”

“It’s one of the arts of those playing at this level is trying to ignore the media attention because one day they think you’re the best player in the world or one of the best players going around, then the next day, they think you’re one of the worst – you’ve got to stay very level headed and if Joe’s got a strength, one of his biggest strengths is how level headed he is!”

“The final side for the morning will depend on the pitch I expect as we haven’t seen it as it’s been raining – I wouldn’t know what their plans are for the bowling attack as it’s beyond my pay grade to say!”

“Joe Root’s come back in which has meant Joe misses out as we’ve already spoken about, but the bowling attack I’m sure will depend on what we see tomorrow when the pitch is uncovered.”

“I think Ben Stokes did a very good as captain at Southampton as a stand in, but you’re always going to miss one of the best players in the world – any side that he was in before and he’s not in after that is going to be considerably weaker you’d say as he is such a good player.”

“I don’t think that that is an excuse for the loss in the First Test – we had enough of the game to win, but to be fair the West Indies played some very good cricket and probably deserved to win it at the end of the day. So, I’m sure we’ll come back stronger with Joe (Root) in the side and hopefully level the series.”