Recent Match Report – Middlesex vs Gloucs Group 2 2021


England batsman’s 90 lifts Kent from 63 for 3 before Yorkshire strike back

Kent 224 for 7 (Crawley 90, Coad 3-45) vs Yorkshire

Zak Crawley’s batting recalls a more leisured age. One can imagine Neville Cardus rhapsodising his finest drives as ‘noble’ and ‘patrician’ or RC Robertson-Glasgow musing whether a cricketer possessed of such natural grace should have someone on hand, a valet of some sort, to run between the wickets for him. Such impressions are both true and unfair: true because Crawley’s strokeplay invites them, and unfair because the Kent and England batsman is a modern professional cricketer whose innings of 90 on the first day of this match contained as much technique as art. But, of course, it is the art that lingers in the mind…

One’s other reflections are probably even less suited to our obsessively egalitarian times. For 23-year-old Crawley is an old-school batsman and a typical product of Tonbridge, his old school. To mention that early cricketing education neither venerates nor excoriates privilege. It merely suggests that the certainty and poise with which he cover-drove Duanne Olivier or forced Ben Coad through the off side recalled another Old Tonbridgian, Colin Cowdrey. Crawley is plainly a very different batsman from Cowdrey – he is assuredly a different shape – yet his best strokes offer spectators similar joys and one recalled Ed Smith, the former national selector, saying that until he played at Lord’s the best wicket on which he had batted was The Head at Tonbridge.

Of course no school can inculcate professional discipline and nous; that is the county coaches’ job and Crawley’s mentors at Kent will no doubt have been as irritated as the batsman himself when he followed a Kodak square cut off Steve Patterson with the hesitant push at his next ball that merely miscued a thick-edged catch to Joe Root, at short cover. That wicket ended his 79-run stand with Jack Leaning and it was also the prelude to the further wastefulness that spoiled what had promised to be a particularly good day for Kent after they had been asked to bat first and had been lowered to 65 to 3.