England top-order batsman Zak Crawley hopes that increased competition for places helps forge England into a stronger side even if it means he has to work harder to find a spot for himself.
Ahead of the three-Test series against West Indies, as many as thirty men – part of a training squad – are looking to make their case for selection come the first match on 8 July. With the exception of a few core players – such as captain Joe Root, vice-captain Ben Stokes and the experienced fast-bowling duo of James Anderson and Stuart Broad – not too many players can expect to be automatic entries into the Test XI.
Crawley feels that such competition will greatly benefit England in the long run, as players will constantly seek self-improvement to keep themselves in the reckoning.
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"It's great to see how much competition there is across the board," said Crawley. "Remember the Australian side of the 2000s, some of the players that didn't get in that side, I think that is why they were such a strong team... such good training environments with everyone always looking to improve to get into the side and we feel like we've got something similar at the moment. We've got strength in depth. It's going to push everyone and make us a pretty good side."
Crawley, who has impressed in his brief career so far, knows that England are spoiled for top-order options and that he will have to prove himself at training over the next couple of weeks to retain his spot. He was the opener in South Africa, alongside Dominic Sibley, in the absence of an injured Rory Burns. But with Burns back in the scheme of things, Crawley knows a spot won't come easy. He even seemed to suggest that Burns might be the preferred option.
"Rory's done very well in the games he's played, he got runs in a very tough Ashes series. He's proven himself to be successful at the Test level. I haven't quite completely proven myself yet but hopefully, with a couple of scores, I can get to that point," he said.
Crawley is open to batting at No.3 should the team dynamics require it, but if it comes to that he will be in a direct face-off with his senior Kent teammate Joe Denly, a scenario that Crawley admitted will be 'odd'.
"It is probably slightly odd if I'm honest," Crawley admitted. "I get on really well with Joe and I wish him every success. Ideally, we'd both play, and we both play together for a long while. That said, he's desperate to play for England, I'm sure, as am I, and we'll still be good friends whatever happens."
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