Kent head coach Matt Walker believes conditions in Pakistan will help batsman Zak Crawley flourish ahead of England’s three-match series

Conditions in Pakistan will help batsman Zak Crawley flourish, according to Kent head coach Matt Walker.

Crawley is part of England’s 16-man Test squad for the tour, their first as a Test team since 2005, which gets underway next week.

Kent’s Zak Crawley. Picture: Keith Gillard

Kent’s Crawley made his mark on the international stage against Pakistan – albeit on home soil – in 2020 when he scored a brilliant 267 in Southampton but struggled for form this summer.

Walker, however, is backing him to have a good three-match Test series.

“Zak has got a great winter to look forward to,” said Walker.

“I think Pakistan will suit him, the pitches will suit him. It’ll be another tough tour but he’ll be better for it.

“Of course, you want to go out and succeed every time you bat but, if you don’t, you are constantly learning about yourself and international cricket.

“So I think all these experiences will make him into a better player.

“I’m hoping this winter is a successful one for him, I’m sure it will be, then next season, we’re looking forward to another great summer for him.

“It’s tough when you are not getting the runs you want to get but he’s a fine young player, becoming much stronger, mentally, and understanding what it takes to score a lot of runs.”

The 24-year-old struggled for form with England this year, and averaged just 27.47 from nine County Championship games for Kent in what he described as “probably the worst summer I’ve ever had”.

Walker feels some of the criticism the former Tonbridge School pupil faced has been unfair.

Kent head coach Matt Walker.  Picture: Barry Goodwin
Kent head coach Matt Walker. Picture: Barry Goodwin

“It’s been a tough year in a number of ways,” he said.

“The runs have not come over the course of the year, for sure, but he’s never really looked out of nick.

“I don’t think he has ever necessarily felt out of nick. He just hasn’t put the runs on the board that he’d have liked and he’s capable of doing.

“Sometimes, it happens. Any player can go through these patches.”

England Test skipper Ben Stokes and head coach Brendon McCullum have maintained their faith in Crawley, though.

Walker added: “They’re supporting him, hence why I don’t think he has ever felt or particularly looked out of nick.

“When you are dealing with that pressure on that stage, it’s not easy.

“Everyone’s out to get you and I think he has some extremely unfair criticism for a number of avenues.

“People don’t realize how hard opening the batting is.

“If you look at the numbers around the international summer, from the England opening batters and the international opposition they have faced, opening the batting has been very hard work. No-one has nailed it.

“It’s not like he’s miles away, I think he’s doing a pretty good job that goes unrecognized. There’s been some really good glimpses but it’s frustrating he hasn’t gone on to get those big scores.

“Whenever I have seen him bat, you are just waiting for it because he looks in a pretty good place.

“He just kept getting out at the wrong time.

“I know that’s frustrated him hugely, but he’ll have learned a heck of a lot.

“He’s a very bright young man and is understanding his game more and more as more opportunities come. No-one’s the finished article, certainly he’s going through that process.

“Unfortunately with the process he’s going through, everyone has got an opinion which makes it slightly harder.

“But, like us, England recognize he is a very fine player and want to back him – and rightly so.”

England initially named a 15-strong squad for the tour before teenage leg-spinner Rehan Ahmed was added to the squad.

Rawalpindi will host the first Test from Thursday.

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