Zak Crawley aiming to 'score big runs' for England after torrid 2021

"I will certainly look to be a bit more confident and back myself because I know full well I can score a hundred here this week and that’s what I’m looking to do."

Zak Crawley has given an honest assessment of his form in 2021 but remains optimistic about returning to his best.

Crawley - with an average of 10 in 2021 - was heralded as the poster boy for a new generation of batting prospects when he scored a magnificent 267 against Pakistan 16 months ago. However, his returns have been in tailspin ever since.

He was dismissed cheaply twice on his comeback appearance in Melbourne, a Boxing Day rout that saw Australia retain the Ashes after just 12 days of cricket, lowering his career mark to 26.92 and his annual one to a gruesome 10.81.

The latter is a number that a tailender would be looking to work on, but England have confidence that the 23-year-old can still become a serious top-order player at international level.

It is a belief the Kent batter clearly shares and he did not indicate that his self-belief has been shaken as he talked up his prospects of a change in fortunes in the fourth Test at the SCG this week.

"Obviously I haven't played my best cricket this last year but I feel in a good place. Those stats are misleading sometimes," he said.

"I have never experienced anything like playing in India, 10 over there felt like a good score at the time. I didn't feel in great touch in the summer so all of a sudden you're averaging 10.

"I feel as good as I ever have though and so I don't look into stats too much. I will certainly look to be a bit more confident and back myself because I know full well I can score a hundred here this week and that's what I'm looking to do.

"Everyone has seen the talent that all our batters have shown over the last few years. We've all got the talent to score big runs in Tests. We've got to get in the right headspace to perform…physically and talent wise there is no question, we can all score big runs over here."

Coming off the back of a woeful 68 all out at the MCG, Crawley's claims may be easy to parody given his own travails and the wider problems England have had posting big totals in recent years.

But he believes bold words and a brave approach will go further than downbeat deference to the Australian attack.

"It's just not fearing them. I feel a few of us on our first Ashes tour, we're a bit wary of them but there's no need to be," said Crawley.

"They're great bowlers, some of the best in the world, but when you get in as Rooty and Mala (Joe Root and Dawid Malan) have shown, they've looked very comfortable at times.

"I don't think it will be a tougher test (in Sydney). I think the wicket is going to be better, slightly flatter, and it'll be a bit easier. Having watched the Ashes a fair bit, usually there seems to be a lot more runs here. I am looking forward to that and hopefully that is the case."

Stuart Broad, meanwhile, insists he will not rush into a decision on his England future, despite only featuring in one of the opening three Tests.

Describing the tour as "a very disappointing trip" which has "taken its toll" on the whole party, the 35-year-old seamer nevertheless said his "hunger to play Test cricket" remained.

Writing in the Mail on Sunday, Broad said: "I must be ready for my next opportunity, whether that be in Sydney, Hobart or beyond.

"There is a long time between now and the tour of the Caribbean in March and I have never been one to make emotional decisions. So I'm not going to make any spur-of-the-moment calls on my future."

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