Zak Crawley has declared himself fit for England’s third Test with India and ready to show his improvement after a big learning curve in Sri Lanka.
The Kent batsman scored only 35 runs across four innings in Galle and a “freak injury” ruled him out of the first two matches of this series. Crawley slipped on a marble floor and sprained his right wrist before a training session, but is available and could be used as an opener or in his preferred No 3 position for the day-night match, which begins on Wednesday.
“It is all about proving my fitness to the coaches but it feels a lot better and I am back batting now in the nets and doing stuff out in the field, so it is looking positive,” said Crawley. “I was one of the first players to go out on to the field, with my spikes on, and basically my feet went out from underneath me. To protect my head I stuck my hand out and it was one of those freak incidents where my arm took all the weight. It was a real shame to do that and miss some Test cricket.” While Crawley took a tumble on an uncovered surface, he confirmed a similar area near the India dressing room was covered by carpet.
He is expected to play in Ahmedabad, but where is up for debate, with the opener Rory Burns and Dan Lawrence, who was used at No 3, both under threat. “I’ve batted in the top four for England so any of those positions and any chance to play again I will do whatever role is required,” he added. “If I had a preference, it would probably be 3 but I have no problems at all with opening.”
It was during January’s two-match series with Sri Lanka that the right-hander was asked to bat at the top and he struggled against Lasith Embuldeniya. Faced with the prospect of playing spin first up, Crawley was out in all four innings to the slow left-armer, with a top score of 13, and could take on a similar challenge next in the shape of Axar Patel, who claimed seven wickets on debut in the second Test.
Crawley insisted: “I still back my game against spin, but it was a great learning curve for me that if I am a bit sharper and work on a few different things and do things that the best do, then there is room for improvement there. I am not going to let a few dismissals change the way I play. He is a top-quality bowler, Axar Patel, so obviously I am going to give him the respect he deserves, but for me it is not a problem in my eyes. I will keep trying to improve the way I play.”
Unlike in the first two games, spin could take a back seat at the new 110,000-capacity Sardar Patel Stadium, which will open its account in Test cricket.