Jos Buttler is convinced Zak Crawley’s double century against Pakistan will be the curtain-raiser “to a very special career” after sharing a huge stand with his England team-mate during the third Test at Southampton on Saturday.
Crawley converted an overnight 171 not out, his maiden Test century, into an innings of 267. Together with Buttler, whose 152 was just his second hundred at this level, he put on 359 — an England record for the fifth wicket — as the hosts piled up a mammoth 583-8 declared in their first innings on the second day at the Ageas Bowl.
And there was still time for England, eyeing a first series victory over Pakistan in a decade at 1-0 up in a three-Test campaign, to strengthen their grip still further, with veteran paceman James Anderson reducing Pakistan to 24-3 at stumps.
At the age of just 22, Crawley has now posted the tenth highest score by an England batsman in 143 years of Test history. “It’s a pleasure to watch him from the other end,” Buttler said. “He hits the ball incredibly hard, has shots all around the wicket and he’s a great kid to bat with.”
“It’s the start of a very special career. He’s going to score a few more hundreds for England, no doubt. This will give him a huge amount of confidence, but an innings of that magnitude will give him so much more belief. He’s got a level head too and he won’t get ahead of himself.”
Crawley, who only two Tests ago was left out of the side when England wanted to play an extra bowler because of an injury to all-rounder Ben Stokes, proved Buttler’s words correct in an interview with Sky Sports.
Asked about being in the company of Len Hutton, Wally Hammond, Graham Gooch and Alastair Cook when it came to batsmen with England’s highest Test scores, Crawley replied: “It’s very humbling indeed. I certainly don’t see myself anywhere near their calibre but hopefully I can build on this.”
World Cup-winning wicketkeeper Buttler had been battling for his Test place after a run of modest scores was compounded by some poor displays with the gloves. But his second-innings 75 proved vital in England’s three-wicket win over Pakistan in the first Test at Old Trafford earlier this month.
Buttler, whose century on Saturday was just his second hundred in 47 Tests, reckoned being in lockdown had helped him home his game. “A couple of games ago I was thinking I was about to get dropped so it just proves that you’re never far away,” he said.
“You’ve got to maintain that belief in yourself. I’ve certainly questioned myself in the last few weeks, but I’ve found a good head space to hang in there.” Buttler added: “I worked on a few things during the period of lockdown and it was good to reflect on my batting and some things I needed to improve.”