Eletiofe'A great kid to bat with': Jos Buttler praises...

‘A great kid to bat with’: Jos Buttler praises Zak Crawley after huge stand

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Jos Buttler believes Zak Crawley’s immense double-hundred at the Rose Bowl marks “the start of a very special career” in Test cricket. As the man at the other end for most of his innings of 267, Buttler had a front-row seat for the birth of a new English batting star, and afterwards had only praise to bestow upon the 22-year-old from Kent.

“Absolutely, it’s the start of something special,” he said at stumps on day two of the third Test. “He’s going to score a few more. An innings of that magnitude will give him so much more belief. He’s got a level head and won’t get ahead of himself. It’s the start of a very special career.”

Together Buttler and Crawley put on 359, a record England partnership for the fifth wicket, and one that also realistically seals the series, with England already 1-0 up and Pakistan struggling to save the game after closing on 24 for three. “I thoroughly enjoyed that partnership with Zak,” a beaming Buttler said. “He hits the ball incredibly hard, with shots all around the wicket, and he’s a great kid to bat with.”

Crawley himself was vaguely dazed after being confronted with a list of the company he now keeps. The 10th highest innings in the history of English Test cricket is more than Hobbs, Boycott, Pietersen or Gower ever managed, but Crawley was modest enough to try to play down any fanciful comparisons. “It’s very humbling indeed,” he said. “I don’t see myself anywhere near their calibre, but hopefully I can build on this.”

Amid all the hoopla over Crawley’s magnum opus, it was easy to overlook that another batsman had produced a career-defining knock.

Buttler’s 152 was his highest score for England in any format, but arguably more impressive was his discipline and patience, batting for almost seven and a half hours, more than he had ever done before. For a player on the verge of being discarded from the side at the start of the summer, it was a sweet vindication of some hard work and hard thinking.

“It’s probably a couple of games ago I was thinking I was about to get dropped,” he admitted. “It just proves that you’re never far away. Things can change fast. I’ve certainly questioned myself in the last few weeks.

“I’ve worked on a few things during the period of lockdown, enjoyed the break, but when you come back you realise how much playing for England is a pleasure. I was just trying to make it last as long as possible.”

Buttler pinpointed his balance at the crease, his leaving of the ball and the quality of the pitch as the main factors in his success. But perhaps the major obstacle was mental. “It’s nice to prove to myself that I can bat for that long,” he said.

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