Zak Crawley admits he was “shocked” to be named England captain for the one-day series against Ireland, more than two years after his only previous appearances in the format.

With England’s World Cup squad preparing to head for India, the selectors have cast their net far and wide for their three Metro Bank ODIs, but Crawley was still an unexpected pick as leader.

Despite being an ever-present in the Test side in recent times – and an Ashes star this summer – he has played only three 50-over games. They all came in the 2021 season, when Covid withdrawals left England scrambling for late replacements.

Speaking at Headingley on the eve of his first outing in charge, the 25-year-old said: “Yeah, I was shocked. I was just hoping to get into the team and play more for England. But they told me I was captain and it’s a great opportunity for me.

“It was Motty (head coach Matthew Mott) who gave me the call to say I’d be in the squad and captaining. It was as simple as that. He was doing the rounds phoning everyone else so it was a pretty brief phone call but a pretty good call.”

While Crawley will be leading an inexperienced squad, including four uncapped players and seven more with six caps or fewer, the vastly experienced Joe Root will be on hand on Wednesday to help out.

Like the rest of the first-choice squad he was not due to feature but asked to play at his home ground in a bid to find some form after a lean series against New Zealand.

And for Crawley, having his first Test skipper there is a major boost.

“Obviously having Joe in the team makes it stronger, no matter what team you’re in. It’s great having him,” said Crawley.

“Especially so for me as captain because I can lean on him for that kind of stuff. It’s awesome and hopefully he gets what he wants from it.”

Zak Crawley’s 158 inspired Kent to 387 for four on the opening day of their LV= County Championship Division One game with Nottinghamshire.

The 25-year-old needed just 153 balls before being caught and bowled by Calvin Harrison as second-bottom Kent gave their survival hopes a boost.

By then Crawley had helped Kent to 248 for two while Daniel Bell-Drummond also hit 60 and skipper Jack Leaning an unbeaten 54 to put them in control.

Tom Bailey’s three for 24 ensured Lancashire had Middlesex 132 for eight as Sam Robson’s gritty 56 from 173 balls – spanning more than four hours – spared them from further embarrassment.

The visitors had fallen to 83 for six in the face of Lancashire’s rampant attack, with Will Williams and Luke Wood also claiming two wickets each.

Emilio Gay made 77 and Karun Nair 78 as Northamptonshire frustrated Warwickshire at Edgbaston.

Oliver Hannon-Dalby claimed three for 29 as rock-bottom Northamptonshire slipped to 24 for two but Gay and Nair helped them recover to 200 for five.

In Division Two, Yorkshire closed on 330 for three as Glamorgan’s slim promotion hopes took another dent.

Finlay Bean’s 93 and Shan Masood’s unbeaten 113 had Yorkshire firmly in charge.

Ollie Price’s career best 125 not out helped Gloucestershire to 333 for six against Derbyshire. He and captain Graeme van Buuren (78) put on a fifth-wicket stand of 157.

Sussex were all out for 262 against Leicestershire, with Fynn Hudson-Prentice top scoring with 65 as Matt Salisbury claimed five for 73.

In reply, Leicestershire lost Sol Budinger and Lewis Hill to finish the day on 68 for two, trailing by 194.

Zak Crawley insists motivation will be no problem as England attempt to round off a memorable Ashes summer by levelling the series at the Kia Oval.

Without two days of rain at Emirates Old Trafford, this week’s clash was shaping up as an all-or-nothing shootout for the urn and would surely have been the most hyped Test match in this country since the touchstone summer of 2005.

The stakes are smaller for England now, but the prospect of securing a 2-2 draw and denying rivals Australia a first outright win on these shores since 2001 remains a prize to play for.

Crawley, whose outstanding 189 in Manchester became an instant Ashes classic as he flayed the Test world champions to all four corners of the ground on day two, admitted the soggy conclusion was frustrating but has no doubt about the hunger in the home dressing room.

“We’re massively up for it. Any game, you want to win,” said the opener, who sits as the top run-scorer in the series with 385.

“As Ben Stokes says, we’re building as a team, this isn’t the end just because it’s the end of the Ashes. Hopefully, it’s very much the start.

“I think 2-2 would be fair. They had the better of us at Lord’s, Edgbaston could have gone either way, we probably deserved this one and Headingley could have gone either way. So I think 2-2 would be right.

“It felt like we were getting on top of them for sure and if we’d won this game it would have been very interesting to see. They’ve got some very good players and would have bounced back but the momentum would have been with us for sure.”

England have named an unchanged 14-man squad for the fifth Test, leaving question marks over the make-up of their pace attack.

Record wicket-taker James Anderson, who turns 41 on day four of the match, is under the microscope after a disappointing series that has seen him take just four wickets at an average of 76.75.

He managed a single breakthrough in what was his farewell Ashes outing at his home ground last week and a familiar bout of speculation around his future follows him to south London.

Anderson has defied expectations around the longevity of fast bowlers for so long that it has become an almost annual tradition to wonder if he might be set for an emotional swansong.

His prospects of getting one more chance to make his mark on this series are improved by worries over Chris Woakes, who has been excellent for the past two games but complained off stiffness in the second innings at Old Trafford.

Woakes had not played Test cricket for 18 months before returning to the side at Headingley and three games in quick succession may be too much of an ask.

England also have the up-and-coming Josh Tongue at their disposal, as well as a fit-again Ollie Robinson, and may also ask to check on leading wicket-taker Stuart Broad, who will be eager for the challenge of playing a sixth consecutive game in little more than seven weeks.

It is understood that Anderson has given no indication at all that he is planning to hang up his boots, and the notion of a grand, emotional farewell in the vein of Sir Alastair Cook is unlikely to appeal.

Rob Key, England’s managing director of men’s cricket, may find himself with a decision to make when the next batch of central contracts are awarded later this year but the three-day break between back-to-back Tests is hardly the time for such debates.

For once, Crawley’s continued selection faces no discussion whatsoever. His imperious century explained perfectly the faith he has enjoyed during leaner times and could act as a springboard for a new chapter.

“I feel I’m as good a player as I have ever been, I feel good about my game,” he said.

“Fast bowling suits my game and the Australian attack is a quick attack. I think a bit less when they’re faster.

“I’m pleased with how I’m playing, I’ve just got to build on it.

“I have a bit more experience now, things to fall back on in different conditions, so I feel I can kick on now. I’ll be keeping myself to myself and listen to close friends and family. They’re the only opinions I care about.”

Zak Crawley produced an instant Ashes classic as England seized control of the must-win fourth Test with a barnstorming display on day two at Emirates Old Trafford.

Crawley crashed and smashed his way to 189 runs from 182 balls as the hosts bullied Australia with a heavy dose of ‘Bazball’ bravado.

After bowling the tourists out for 317 with two early wickets, England wiped out the deficit in just 55 overs and finished 67 ahead on 384 for four.

The speed of their assault was motivated partially by the threat of bad weather over the weekend and Crawley was the ideal man to lead the way. He unloaded 21 fours and three sixes, repaying the rock-solid faith Ben Stokes and Brendon McCullum have shown him.

The 25-year-old’s inconsistency has attracted criticism and he arrived at the crease with an underpowered Test average of 28.65. But he has a maverick quality that appeals to the current regime and could not have picked a better stage to spread his wings with a fourth ton.

At 2-1 down with two to play England have no option but to win this game, regardless of the coming rain, and Crawley has given them every chance.

Moeen Ali (54) and Joe Root (84) offered lively support, with Harry Brook and Stokes unbeaten overnight.

England were into their work swiftly, James Anderson removing Pat Cummins with the first ball of the morning and Chris Woakes completing a well-deserved five-for to end the innings.

Crawley started as he meant to go on, brushing the first ball of the innings off his hip for four, and refused to let Ben Duckett’s third-over dismissal knock him off course.

He weathered a couple of early scares, edging inches in front of slip on 12 and given out lbw on 20 before successfully calling for DRS, but held his nerve to reach the lunch break intact.

Moeen’s promotion to number three came with low expectations – not least from himself – but he proved a perfect ally, sharing the burden with a flurry of four boundaries in eight deliveries.

From a promising foundation of 61 for one, England proceeded to play two outrageous hours of adrenaline-fuelled cricket in the afternoon session. In the space of 25 overs they scored 178 runs, with a run-rate of 7.12 that would not have been unacceptable in a T20.

Crawley was a conundrum Australia simply could not crack. A couple of inside edges skated dangerously close to his stumps and more than one thick outside edge climbed over the cordon, but even his errors raced through to the ropes.

When he did find his timing, he looked imperious. He showed Cameron Green the full face of his bat as he stroked elegantly down the ground, walked across his stumps to open up fine-leg and drove through cover with style.

He even made sure to hammer home Australia’s folly in leaving out a specialist spinner. When part-timer Travis Head took a turn, Crawley reverse swept his first ball for four and then stooped to launch the follow-up into the stands.

Moeen fell for 54, well caught at midwicket by Usman Khawaja to give Mitchell Starc a second success, but a partnership of 121 represented a job well done.

Crawley and Root ensured the momentum did not go with him, the latter immediately negating Australia short-ball tactics with some expertly judged hooks.

A delicious cover drive took Crawley within one blow his hundred and he got there off just 93 balls with a lobbed cut shot that is unlikely to be found in any coaching manual. The crowd roared him on, but the reaction on the balcony, from team-mates who have repeatedly rallied to his defence in the lean times, was even more telling.

Root ensured the fun kept coming, dipping into his bag of tricks to reverse ramp Mitchell Marsh over for six. The tea interval did little to revive the away side’s flagging spirits, Cummins unable to rouse his side by word or deed.

He gave himself a four-over burst at the start of the evening and shipped 30 including back-to-back straight fours that took Crawley to 150. At one stage Cummins attempted to review an lbw appeal that had hit Root’s bat, making the signal with comic timing as the umpire signalled no-ball. When England picked up three overthrows for some sloppy backing up at the bowler’s end, it was no surprise to find the captain was the culprit.

England took the lead in fitting style, Crawley stepping inside the line and blazing Marsh high over wide long-on for six. The quickest double hundred in Ashes history was beckoning when Crawley came to an abrupt end, dragging a short ball from Green back into his stumps.

He walked off to a well-earned ovation, having restated the mercurial skills which have made him a mainstay of the Bazball era.

Root was well placed to follow him to a ton but found himself bowled by one that shot through low from Josh Hazlewood. Brook and Stokes put on a calm 33 before stumps but more fireworks are likely as England look to move things forward on day three.

England made an encouraging start with bat and ball as they attempted to take control of their must-win Ashes Test at Emirates Old Trafford.

The hosts snapped up Australia’s last two wickets as the tourists bowed out for 317, and recovered well from the early loss of Ben Duckett to reach 61 for one at lunch.

Moeen Ali’s experimental promotion to number three was beginning to pay off, with the all-rounder reeling off five boundaries on his way to 31 not out and Zak Crawley was unbeaten on 26.

The growing sense that the game was unfolding in England’s favour was strengthened when Cameron Green had Crawley lbw, only for ball-tracking to show the ball disappearing past the leg stump.

With plenty of rain forecast over the weekend, the home side know they must move fast to set the game up and land the victory they need to keep the series alive, but after four sessions the building blocks are in place.

They enjoyed the perfect start, hometown hero James Anderson striking with the first ball of the day following 17 wicketless overs on Wednesday.

It was far from his best delivery, served up a fraction full outside off stump, but it got the desired response as Pat Cummins lifted a gentle catch straight to Ben Stokes at point to make it 299 for nine.

Anderson, bowling from the end that bears his name, took the acclaim in what could yet be his last appearance at this ground.

England looked to have wrapped things up in the next over, number 11 Josh Hazlewood fencing Chris Woakes to slip, but the TV umpire called a marginal no-ball as the seamer nudged the line.

Australia cashed in another 17 runs but Woakes’ hopes of a first five-for against Australia were only on pause, Hazlewood clipping to third slip to end the innings.

The English reply began with four off the first delivery, Crawley brushing Starc fine off his hip to keep the cheers coming from the stands.

It was not long before they turned to groans though, Duckett lasting only six balls as he pressed forward and nicked Starc tamely into Alex Carey’s gloves.

That meant an early appearance for Moeen, who promptly threw his hands at the fourth delivery he faced and hit fresh air. Crawley was also bested when he edged Hazlewood just in front of the cordon, but the attacking instincts of the pair began to pay off.

Crawley whipped Hazlewood smartly through midwicket as his timing returned and Moeen hit the boundary ropes four times in eight deliveries as he unfurled a couple of picturesque drives and took his career tally beyond 3,000 Test runs.

Green thought he had Crawley when umpire Joel Wilson raised his finger, but a wise referral spared the opener and brought one of the biggest roars of the day.

Crawley signed off the session with a sweet cover drive off Cummins, leaving Australia with questions to answer in the afternoon.

Zak Crawley has stressed that while England are determined to win the Ashes they are “not about results” but entertainment.

The hosts are 1-0 down with four matches to play after losing to Australia by two wickets in a dramatic climax to the first Test at Edgbaston on Tuesday.

While skipper Ben Stokes and head coach Brendon McCullum have emphasised their belief in the team’s approach, with the latter saying the side want to keep “throwing punches”, Sir Geoffrey Boycott has claimed England “have got carried away” with the style nicknamed ‘Bazball’ and “seem to think entertaining is more important than winning.”

Opener Crawley told Times Radio it had been “a great week for cricket” as he made reference to the record Sky Sports viewing and BBC listening figures the match attracted, and added: “That’s what we’re all about – we’re not about results, we always talk about that, we’re not about winning or losing, we’re about entertainment.

“Of course we’re there to win, and it helps our brand and what we’re trying to do if we win, we get more traction if we win.

“But I don’t think we’ve lost anything this week, other than a game of cricket, which is (in) a five-match series. Other than that, we’ve gained a lot of respect and support and I think it’s great for the game.”

A major talking point from the first Test was England’s decision to declare late on day one on 393 for eight.

Vice-captain Ollie Pope said of that call: “I think what we tried to do didn’t pay off at the time, only because we gave ourselves an opportunity of taking two wickets that night, then hopefully rocking up on day two and we only need eight wickets.

“That’s something we spoke about a lot and was a decision we discussed as a group. We had an opportunity to bowl them out on the last day, we had a rain-affected day and we needed to take 10 wickets in 70, 80 odd overs.

“Looking back on that moment, nothing changes, and that’s what we’re about as a team. If we didn’t declare, we might have batted too long, they might have, and we might not have even been able to give ourselves an opportunity of 10 wickets on the last day.

“So I think again, we talk about that mindset, approach – just because it’s an Ashes series and there’s a lot more people watching than there is when we play another team, we want to make the same decisions and we have made those decisions over the last year-and-a-half as a team and we’ve been on the right side of the result a few times.

“That’s the mindset we’re in at the moment. We wouldn’t change a thing about the game, obviously other than the end result.”

Both players backed England to win the second Test that gets under way at Lord’s on Wednesday, with Pope also saying that “if we did go down 2-0, we still believe we can win 3-2 this Ashes series, 100 per cent.”

Writing in the Telegraph, former England batter Boycott said: “England have got carried away with Bazball and seem to think entertaining is more important than winning.

“But England supporters want one thing more than anything else – to win the Ashes. Scoring fast runs, whacking lots of fours and sixes is lovely. It is great. But only if England do not lose sight of the big prize which is to beat Australia.

“If at the end of the series Australia go home with the Ashes we will feel sick, regardless of how much we have been entertained.

“They are in danger of letting hubris be their downfall or, quoting William Shakespeare in Hamlet, being hoist by one’s own petard. They are going to defeat themselves. It would be sad if playing exciting cricket for a year is going to their heads.

“By all means entertain but cricket is like chess. There are moments when you need to defend. Sometimes you need to be patient and accept it. Do not just attack, attack, attack. England need a bit of common sense and pragmatism.”

England were left cursing their luck after losing both openers under dark skies in a 20-minute spell that may have altered the course of the first Ashes Test.

Ben Duckett and Zak Crawley fell in successive overs on the third afternoon as they battled fiercely difficult batting conditions and an Australian attack intent on seizing its chance.

The pair had walked out under thick, dark skies after a 75-minute rain delay and failed to survive a mini-session that saw 22 balls bowled, two runs scored and two wickets fall under the floodlights.

Further downpours spared Ollie Pope and Joe Root, who will resume on 28 for two and attempt to turn a narrow lead of 35 into a match-winning position.

The Dukes ball, which had offered nothing over the first two days, came to life during that brief period, but it took considerable skill from Pat Cummins and Scott Boland to ensure it did not go to waste.

Cummins had Duckett (19) brilliantly taken in the gully, the latest on Cameron Green’s production line of outstanding catches, while Crawley (seven) endured a handful of close calls before Boland finally took his outside edge.

Beyond that there were half-a-dozen loud appeals as the ball wobbled through the air and zipped off the pitch, and England will be relieved not to have suffered further losses before the rain returned to bring an early end to proceedings.

Until their struggles in failing light and unsettled overheads, England had enjoyed the best of the day and moved themselves back into a strong position.

They took Australia’s last five wickets for 48, bowling the tourists out for 386 to sneak a slim first innings lead of seven. Ollie Robinson belatedly announced himself in the series, following a wicketless outing on Saturday with three dismissals, with James Anderson and Stuart Broad taking one apiece.

Australia began on 311 for five, 82 behind but seemingly well set with centurion Usman Khawaja at the crease alongside Alex Carey.

Anderson almost parted them with the fourth delivery of the morning when he took Carey’s inside edge from round the wicket.

Anderson had already started to celebrate as Jonny Bairstow tumbled low to his right, but watched in dismay as the ball squirmed free from the wicketkeeper’s glove.

It was a painful start for Bairstow, who already had a missed stumping against Green and another dropped catch off Carey on his ledger, and his frustration was plain to see.

Anderson went back to the drawing board and got his man for 66, forcing one through Carey’s defences and trimming the bails.

Moeen Ali started up at the other end, fresh from receiving a fine from the ICC for using an unauthorised drying agent on his hands during Saturday’s play. If that was an unwanted present on the spinner’s 36th birthday, then things did not get a lot better as he worked through a messy spell.

A return to first-class cricket after almost two years in retirement has clearly caused some damage to the all-rounder’s spinning finger – hence the spray which caught the match referee’s attention. He got away with one loopy full toss but could not stop Cummins launching him for a couple of sixes as he struggled to get any purchase on the ball.

Ben Stokes began to set some highly unusual fields in a bid to knock Australia off their stride and it seemed to work when Robinson uprooted Khawaja’s off stump for 141.

With a ring of catchers stationed in front of square on both sides of the wicket, the centurion tried to manufacture a blow through the covers and ended up misreading a precision yorker.

The tail was knocked over with efficiency after that. Nathan Lyon pulled Robinson straight to deep square-leg and Boland backed away visibly before popping Broad to silly point for his third of the innings. Cummins was last to go for 38, holing out off another Robinson short ball.

Duckett and Crawley made a measured start after lunch, taking advantage of Australia’s cautious fields to pick up easy singles for the second time in the match.

After 6.5 overs they had moved to 26 without loss, in no trouble at all. The subsequent rain delay, and the sharp deterioration in conditions, meant things were incomparable when they re-emerged in nightmare circumstances at 3.30pm.

The rain was close, but not close enough to spare the top-order pair as Australia made full use of the assistance to claim the upper hand.

England lost both openers under dark skies at Edgbaston as Australia seized the initiative on day three of a gripping first Ashes Test.

England lost Ben Duckett and Zak Crawley in consecutive overs in desperately difficult batting conditions in a mini afternoon session slotted awkwardly between two heavy rain showers.

That left the home side 28 for two, a fragile lead of 35 with everything still to play for.

The hosts had rallied impressively with the ball in the morning session, taking the last five Australian wickets for 75 runs to eke out the narrowest of seven-run leads.

Their openers then added another 26 after lunch in untroubled fashion, only for everything to change in dramatic circumstances after a 75-minute rain delay in the afternoon.

The teams came back out under thick black clouds at 3.30pm, with the floodlights cranked up and batting conditions suddenly the most precarious of the match.

Only 22 deliveries were possible before an almighty downpour, with England losing two wickets for just two runs as the Dukes ball came alive in fading light. Duckett (19) fenced at one that wobbled in the air and straightened up off the pitch from Pat Cummins, with Cameron Green pulling off the latest in a long line of outstanding catches in the gully.

Crawley (seven) then followed in the next over, Scott Boland capping an outstanding burst from the Birmingham End by finally to taking a thin nick after multiple close calls. There were half a dozen loud appeals in addition to that crucial double strike, with each batter seemingly clinging on in trying circumstances.

When the rain did come it was a sweet relief for Ollie Pope and Joe Root, surely sparing England further losses.

The day began with Australia on 311 for five, still 82 behind but seemingly well set with half their wickets in hand and two set batters at the crease. England needed early breakthroughs to nudge themselves back in front and James Anderson almost delivered one when he took Alex Carey’s inside edge with his fourth delivery of the morning.

Anderson had already started to celebrate as Jonny Bairstow tumbled low to his right but watched in dismay as the ball squirmed free from the wicketkeeper’s glove.

It was a painful start for Bairstow, who already had a missed stumping against Cameron Green and another dropped catch off Carey on his ledger, and his frustration was plain to see.

Anderson continued to cause the left-hander problems and got him after 20 minutes, forcing one through Carey’s defences from round the wicket and trimming the bails with precision.

Moeen Ali started up at the other end, fresh from receiving a fine from the ICC for using an unauthorised drying agent on his hands during Saturday’s play. If that was an unwanted present on the spinner’s 36th birthday, then things did not get a lot better as he worked through his spell.

A return to first-class cricket after almost two years in retirement has clearly caused some damage to the all-rounder’s spinning finger – hence use of spray which caught the match referee’s attention.

He got away with one loopy full toss but could not stop Cummins launching him for a couple of sixes as he struggled to get any purchase on the ball.

Ben Stokes began to set some highly unusual fields in a bid to knock Australia off their stride and it seemed to work when Robinson uprooted Khawaja’s off stump for 141.

With a ring of catchers stationed in front of square on both sides of the wicket, the centurion tried to manufacture a blow through the covers and ended up mis-reading a precision yorker.

The tail was knocked over with efficiency after that, Lyon pulling Robinson straight to deep square-leg, Boland backing away and popping Stuart Broad to silly point and Cummins holing out off another short ball.

Zak Crawley punched the first ball of the much-awaited Ashes through the covers for four but England’s progress was stymied within the first half hour by Ben Duckett’s dismissal at Edgbaston.

The opening exchange of this series has frequently gone Australia’s way, from Steve Harmison’s alarming wide in 2006 to Rory Burns being bowled round his legs by Mitchell Starc 18 months ago.

Australia’s decision to omit Starc – with Josh Hazlewood returning to the line-up – led to captain Pat Cummins taking the new ball and he served up a full and wide delivery that was clattered by Crawley.

An expectant crowd roared their approval as the ball raced away to the boundary, with Crawley and Duckett settling quickly to vindicate Ben Stokes’ decision to bat first under gloriously sunny skies.

The first hint of trouble came when Duckett (12) inside edged Hazlewood for his second four but his luck immediately ran out. Hazlewood continued to dangle the carrot, sticking to a fuller and wider line which this time drew a thin outside edge that was gratefully accepted by wicketkeeper Alex Carey.

Crawley, despite speculation about his place in the side after a lean run of form, and Ollie Pope continued to keep England ticking at more than four an over, prompting Cummins to turn to Nathan Lyon’s off-spin in the 10th over.

After Lyon’s opening foray, England were on 47 for one after Crawley (22 not out) clattered the off-spinner authoritatively just wide of mid-off for his third four.

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