‘This isn’t the finish because it’s the ashes; it’s the beginning,’ says Zak Crawley.

'This isn't the finish because it's the ashes; it's the beginning,' says Zak Crawley.

The opener believes a 2-2 tie is fair and likes the idea of facing the quicks at The Oval.

'This isn't the finish because it's the ashes; it's the beginning,' says Zak Crawley.
Zak Crawley gets a handshake from Pat Cummins after his epic 189 from 182 balls.

Crawley’s innings propelled him to the top of the run-scorers chart this series

The rain had stopped in Manchester by the time Monday arrived. After a weekend of rain, the clouds had finally parted. To add insult to injury, the sun dipped in and out of view, reminding us that it was still up there today, the first morning since the 2023 Ashes had died.

Following an abandoned match and a tie in the fourth Test, Australia has reclaimed the urn with an unassailable 2-1 lead heading into the fifth Test at the Kia Oval. The epic decider that was expected to launch English cricket into orbit is now positioned as the tourists’ opportunity to win their first overseas Ashes series since 2001.

Nonetheless, replicating England’s two-all draw in 2019 is a significant motivator for this team. Unlike the fifth Test, which had a very end-of-term vibe with both sides playing out the match in jeans, Ben Stokes’ charges have the opportunity to put an asterisk next to Australia’s retention.

Despite being 2-0 down after two games, they believe they have been the most assertive thus far in the series. While it may only be an asterisk to those in the locker room, the fact that the weather prevented England from going into the last match on Thursday with everything to play for has England feeling cheated. To them, a squared series at the end would signify some form of justice.

“I think 2-2 would be fair,” Crawley said after his spectacular 189 from 182 deliveries propelled England to 592 for a 275-run first-inning lead that they couldn’t convert. “At Lord’s, they got the better of us, and Edgbaston could have gone either way.” We most likely deserved it, and Headingley could have gone the other way. So I believe two-all is correct. We’ll see what happens, and hopefully we’ll be able to obtain it.

“We’ll play the same way and know we can score big.” We’ll see what happens if we have a little in the tank. That’s the advantage of a five-Test series: you get a good look at them and can work out tactics and nuances. I’d never played a five-match series before.

“We’re totally up for it.” And, as Stokesy points out, we’re still building as a team; the Ashes aren’t the finish. It’s only the beginning, hopefully.”

Despite the optimism, Crawley stated the Old Trafford dressing room was empty when the match was called off on day five, at around 5.24 p.m.Because of a persistent downpour on days four and five, England was only able to bowl 30 of a possible 180 overs to push for victory.

England had played a near-perfect game up until Friday evening, reducing Australia to 113 for 4 in their second innings, behind by 162 by stumps on day three. Unfortunately, it was all in vain.

“It’s pretty flat,” Crawley remarked of the squad’s mood. “We’re disappointed because we played some good cricket in this game.” We wanted to win, and we were in a terrific position to win, but two days of rain ruined our chances. But that’s the way things are.”

Crawley’s innings propelled him to the top of the run-scorers chart this series, providing solace to a player who had been dubbed a “weak link” during Stokes’ and Brendon McCullum’s tenures. He came into the series with a strong start, including 61 in his maiden innings, which he commemorated by hitting the first ball of the first Test at Edgbaston for four off Pat Cummins.

He continued in this vein, and his 385 runs, at an average of 55.00, had come from just 428 deliveries. Usman Khawaja, the number two player on the list, has amassed 377 runs from more than twice as many innings (961).

“I feel like I’m as good a player as I’ve ever been,” Crawley said after passing 2,000 career runs and increasing his 38-cap average to 31.01. “I feel good about my game; I’m happy with how I’m playing; I just need to keep improving.” I have a little more experience now and things to fall back on in different situations, so I think I’m ready to go.

Crawley acknowledged that Australia’s increased speed throughout their attack was a key to his improved performance. And, on what should be a hitter-friendly Oval pitch, the Kent batter aims to cash in once more before the Test season ends.

“I believe so; I certainly believe that faster attacks do.” Fast bowling is ideal for my game. The Australian attack is rapid, and I believe they will score less if they are faster. That just seems to fit my game a little better. They are outstanding bowlers who present a variety of obstacles.

“I enjoy batting for Kent at The Oval, and I’ve played one Test match there and done well (five and 69 not out against South Africa last summer).” “I’m hoping for a good wicket and a good game.”


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