NASSER HUSSAIN: Zak Crawley’s three dismissals against New Zealand have been a horror show… the England batsman has a scrambled brain but he is still worth investing in


  • Jack Crawley’s three dismissals against New Zealand have been a horror show
  • His dismissal at Edgbaston coincided with a shot of a man struggling mentally
  • This England batsman has a bad mind but he is still worth investing in

One has to wonder how Jack Crawley can move on from that scintillating double century against Pakistan last summer where he is now. And all he has now is a fried brain.

It’s the thing that’s easiest to forget when you’ve finished the game – the number of scuffles you do where you run out of whack and run around for runs.

And Crowley’s dismissal of Neil Wagner came here at Edgbaston with a shot from a man who is struggling mentally, not technically.

Zak Crowley’s dismissal of Neil Wagner came with a shot of a man who is struggling mentally

Yes, Crowley has made some changes since last year when he had a slight trigger movement to prop up his legs and align himself before receiving the ball.

There has been no trigger or tap on Thursday and so far in this series and his left foot is not coming towards the ball.

But the real issue is that he got out twice on big loose drives at Lord’s last week and he came here as a natural attacking batsman, not knowing whether to stick or twist.

Wagner put it there and said ‘go for a drive if you want’ and Crowley’s eyes lit up before he remembered how he had turned out last week. Then he got stuck between two stools.

His three dismissals against New Zealand has, indeed, been a horror show and when you are under pressure, as Crowley is now, the brain does some funny things for you.

The batsman's dismissal thrice in this series against New Zealand has been a horror show.

The batsman’s dismissal thrice in this series against New Zealand has been a horror show.

Crowley will certainly be under pressure here in the second innings, with Ben Stokes coming back and someone else to find a place in the series against India.

And the more you desperate for runs, the more stressed you can get and go in search of the ball. Especially when the game and the next innings are so important.

A lot of these England batsmen have a strong bottom hand grip and, while Crowley is more traditional than some, I noticed that when I first saw him in South Africa, when under pressure, his bottom hand was slightly happens more.

They only needed to see Dan Lawrence, who had also played a bad shot at Lord’s, to realize that as the pressure eased, those hands became softer on the bat and that mental and technical issues could disappear. Huh.

So what Crowley has to do now is study footage of that 267 at the Ageas Bowl, try to clear those three dismissals from your mind and unroll that brain. He has to be as natural as possible but making changes in between Tests is not easy.

He’s still a good player, he’s still worth England’s investment, and after this Test he can go back to Kent and have some fun in white-ball cricket. This would be a good way for Crowley to free himself and go and make some runs.

The only saving grace for them is who is going to bat three more in that five-Test series in August and September? Joe Root does not want to bat at number three and James Bracey, who was seen as a substitute there before this series, now has two ducks in two innings.

I felt for Bracey. His reaction on getting out on the first ball told you everything you need to know about the difference between Test and County cricket.

James Bracey now has two ducks in two innings, which shows the difference between Test and county cricket

James Bracey now has two ducks in two innings, which shows the difference between Test and county cricket

Had he been playing for Gloucestershire, he would probably have been dropping that Trent Boult delivery 99 times out of a hundred. But in a big Test, in front of a large crowd, he also went out to find because he wanted to bat on the ball.

Cricket really gets you. Two weeks ago Bracey may have felt as good about his game as ever but now he is most in the limelight and gets two ducks. It’s a very different story. You could see that he wanted the ground to swallow him up.

I thought the England openers played well in the first session, but because they bat at a modest pace and because they have long tails in this match, New Zealand were always in control. It never took away from him, especially with the swing of the ball.

Rory Burns will be disappointed with the way he got out but he has played really well and is picking up the ball well this series.

Burns has his own funky technique but when the ball is released he is in good shape and obviously he is quite mentally strong. He is a real street-fighter.

Rory Burns played really well on Thursday and is picking up the ball well this series

Rory Burns played really well on Thursday and is picking up the ball well this series

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