Zak Crawley deserves England spot over Joe Denly, says Dominic Cork

11 July 2020, 21:17 | Updated: 12 July 2020, 10:22

Dominic Cork says Zak Crawley has done enough to be picked ahead of Joe Denly for the next #raisethebat Test after his 76 on day four at The Ageas Bowl.

England captain Joe Root has missed the first Test to be at the birth of his second child, but will return for the second game of the series against the West Indies, starting on Thursday at Emirates Old Trafford, likely leaving Kent pair Crawley and Denly fighting for one spot in the side.

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Crawley was the standout of the England batsmen on Saturday, hitting his highest Test score, while Denly got another start - a running theme for his Test career - before falling for 29.

Cork, appearing on the latest episode of The Cricket Debate - which you can listen to as a podcast in the player below - thinks Crawley has done enough to cement his place in the side.

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"His balance looks excellent, his timing is good, I think he gets in good positions," said Cork of Crawley. "He's got a future.

"You look at the two young characters in the batting line-up in Crawley and Ollie Pope, you just think these guys are going to be in that side for a long, long time.

"It's a simple decision. If you're asking who's going to be left out? Denly will unfortunately be left out of the next Test match for Root.

"He's had his chance. If you don't perform, unfortunately you get dropped.

"I'm not saying it's the end for Denly, he's still going to be around but it's a simple decision for me - Crawley is too talented of a cricketer to not play. He's got to play for a long period of time."

Joining Cork, Darren Sammy and Mark Butcher on The Cricket Debate, Ravi Bopara questioned Denly's struggles to make meaningful scores on the international stage, having seen him do so on the domestic circuit.

Bopara believes it could be down to his lack of aggression in pursuing runs, with dot balls accounting for 82 per cent of Denly's deliveries faced in Test cricket.

"If you watch him in county cricket, he scores quite freely," said Bopara. "He's never had trouble with his strike-rate or anything like that.

"I've played a lot against him, and with him, but in the Test arena he has gone in his shell a little bit.

"A batsman's primary job is to go out and score runs, not to survive. You've got to score.

"When you're looking for runs, it makes your foot movement more positive and keeps your brain engaged in the task.

"That's where Denly has been a bit guilty, not looking for those runs. It's so easy to do - it happens to the best batters - that you go a little bit inward, start thinking about technique, you're under pressure and you forget to score.

"'Is my bat coming down right? Am I going to be picked for the next Test?' You start searching a little bit."

Also discussed on The Cricket Debate:

  • Are Jos Buttler's days as England's Test wicketkeeper numbered?
  • How many runs do England need to make for a tough run chase for West Indies?
  • The threat of England quicks Mark Wood and Jofra Archer on day five

Watch day five of the first #raisethebat Test between England and West Indies live on Sky Sports Cricket from 10.30am on Sunday.