England in Sri Lanka: Zak Crawley says it is ‘quite likely’ he’ll open the batting

Zak Crawley’s 267 against Pakistan was his highest score in first-class cricket
Venue: Galle International Stadium. Dates: 14-18 January.
Coverage: Live text commentary on the BBC Sport website.

England’s Zak Crawley says it is “quite likely” he will open the batting during the two-Test tour of Sri Lanka.

Crawley settled at three during the English summer and scored 267 in his last innings against Pakistan.

However, with opener Rory Burns staying in London for the birth of his first child, Crawley, alongside Dom Sibley, is the only recognised opener in England’s 16-man squad.

“I haven’t been told yet but I assume that might be the case,” said Crawley.

“It doesn’t change much for me – I see the top four as all pretty similar roles.

“I’m happy to bat in any of those positions but I think it is quite likely I will open and I’m looking forward to that.”

Crawley made his Test debut in New Zealand last winter and batted at six, before deputising for the injured Burns at the top of the order in the final three Tests of England’s series win in South Africa.

He batted at four in the opening Test of the English summer before moving to number three, which the 22-year-old says would be his position of choice.

“When I was young I always wanted to bat three, and all my heroes batted three, and then I got a good score at three so I quite like the way that worked,” Crawley said.

“I had a little chance to think about the innings before I went in and that’s something I hadn’t done for a while having done a fair bit of opening for Kent, and I really enjoyed that.

“But it means a lot to play for England – if they want me to open, I’ll open. If they want me to bat six, I’ll bat six, and if I get a choice, maybe I’ll bat three.”

The right-hander averages 48.41 in eight Tests, after his maiden century against Pakistan at the Ageas Bowl, but says it is still “very early days” in his Test career.

“You never really know you can score a Test hundred until you get one. Hopefully I can build on that now,” Crawley added.

“I don’t want to be a one-hit wonder and fade away. I want to secure my place in the side and I won’t be living off that innings for too long.”

England’s preparation for the two Tests, which start in Galle on 14 January, has been hampered by all-rounder Moeen Ali testing positive for coronavirus, and bowler Chris Woakes having to isolate as a close contact, but Crawley said both are “doing well”.

“It is obviously massively frustrating for them,” said Crawley.

“Mo didn’t know he had it until he tested positive, so I feel for him, but I’m sure they’ll be good when they come out of the other side.”

The rest of England’s tour party returned negative tests on Tuesday and they trained for the first time at their Hambantota base on Wednesday afternoon.

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