Zak Crawley dreams of scoring his maiden Test century for England but remains cautious about playing through bad light for fear of a career-changing injury.
The subject continued to dominate the second Test in Southampton as, after two shortened days, the third was abandoned without a ball being bowled and thus Pakistan remained unmoved from their overnight 223 for nine from 86 overs.
Morning mizzle was followed by a clean-up operation at 2.45pm. But as the umpires, Richard Kettleborough and Michael Gough, walked out for a third inspection at 5.15pm the light rain returned and, with the outfield damp, time was called.
Another day of heavy clouds and gloom in Southampton meant that bad light would likely have been a factor regardless of the late shower, as was the case on day two when it wiped out all but nine deliveries of the evening session.
Crawley, offering a view from the England dressing room, said: “It’s definitely frustrating. You always want the game moving forward, especially when I’d like a bat. But I was at deep square [on day two] when a couple of balls got hit out to me and I didn’t see them at all really.
“I don’t know if anyone else was feeling the same. It’s a difficult one, if someone cops one on the head because they didn’t see the ball in the field, or a batsman cops one on the arm and misses the rest of the series, that’s life changing differences in their career or their lives.
“It hasn’t happened in this game yet but who’s to say if we come out and it’s dark someone doesn’t break their arm or get hit in the head by a cricket ball? [But] it’s not for me to say if it’s too dark. It’s the umpire’s responsibility to look after the players.”
Crawley will have been feeling the lack of cricket more acutely than some of his teammates, having been stood down for England’s previous two Tests in order to accommodate an extra bowler in response to a thigh injury to Ben Stokes.
The right-hander nudged Joe Denly out of the team with a career-best 76 during the first Test against West Indies, when Joe Root was on paternity leave, but points to his Kent teammate as an example of statistics not telling a batsman’s full story.
Denly’s 15 Test caps returned an average of 29.5 but his contributions went further than the numbers, such as last summer’s half-century in Leeds that laid the platform for Stokes’s heroics or the 94 at the Oval that helped England draw the Ashes series.
Crawley said: “That 94 against that attack is as good as any hundred against a lesser one. That was one of the best knocks of his life. But the currency is hundreds. I don’t necessarily agree with it, but it’s what we’re all chasing.
“I think about [my first] all the time. I pinch myself thinking about scoring a hundred in my room at night. The first one is probably the hardest to get so I’m very much looking forward to the day I hopefully can get one. There’s a lot of hard work yet.”
In the meantime Crawley has had to settle for cards in the dressing room, where his eye has been tested in a different way. “Jos Buttler is a cheat and Rory Burns is a cheat,” the 22-year-old revealed, with a smile on his face. “I have to keep my eyes on them. ’You’re only cheating yourself,’ I say to them.”