Published: 06:00, 13 September 2019
Kent captain Sam Billings believes a sparkling future in the England set-up beckons for his club team-mate Zak Crawley.
The 21-year-old has been a glaring positive throughout the season, demonstrating his blend of grace and power with the bat in both red-ball format and the T20 blast.
Crawley, who made his England Lions debut against an Australia XI at Canterbury in July, entered this week’s Division 1 clash against Nottinghamshire with 716 first-class runs to his name so far this season.
That includes two centuries and four half-centuries, with a best of 111 in the win against Nottinghamshire at Tunbridge Wells in June.
Billings said: “There have been so many different people talking about Zak (Crawley) on various social media channels. The guy is a class act.
“He will play for England and can be as good as he wants to be and he certainly has the mentality.
“It’s his first full season of T20 and the way he’s played, the confidence but also the different amount of shots he’s got.
“He can hit 360, he can sweep pace bowlers, he can reverse sweep spinners, he can hit over extra cover, he can hit straight.
“He’s got an all-round game that will stand him in very good stead moving forward.”
Crawley also showcased his expertise during Kent’s T20 Blast campaign, asserting himself as a regular opener alongside Daniel Bell-Drummond.
The Bromley-born right-hander, who only turned 21 in February, was Kent’s second highest run maker in the competition with 307 runs. Only Bell-Drummond (317) scored more.
Crawley’s first full season in the tournament included an outstanding 89 against Essex at Chelmsford – although Kent went on to lose that match and miss out on a quarter-final berth in the competition.
Billings admits it was disappointing to see Crawley’s efforts go unrewarded due to a lack of support from elsewhere in the order.
“It is a matter of other people, myself including having not stepped up and batted with him,” he added.
“We just needed one other person to have a really substantial knock and we’d have won that game.
“There are positives but at the end of the day it’s professional sport and it’s about winning, nothing else.”
Such has been Crawley’s impression across the country that Australian legend Shane Warne tipped him for a place in England’s Ashes squad back in July.
Two years down the line since his senior debut against Essex in the Royal London One-Day Cup and Crawley finds himself as an integral part of Kent’s plans moving forward.
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More by this authorCameron Hogwood