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Kent Cricket players Zak Crawley and Joe Denly to compete in an England training match ahead of the first Test against the West Indies

Kent and England batsman Zak Crawley hopes there is room in next week’s first Test against West Indies for both himself and team-mate Joe Denly.

Crawley, 22, impressed against South Africa in the winter, replacing the injured Rory Burns, and hopes to be involved again next week.

Zak Crawley will bat at no.3 for Team Stokes in a training game at the Ageas Bowl Picture: Ady Kerry
Zak Crawley will bat at no.3 for Team Stokes in a training game at the Ageas Bowl Picture: Ady Kerry

Both he and Denly have been part of the training group and the pair are hoping to stake their claim in the top order. Burns is back but captain Joe Root is set to miss out to attend the birth of his child.

The England players have been training at the Ageas Bowl, Southampton since last Tuesday and the team for the first test will be picked following a three-day practice match which started yesterday (Wednesday).

Crawley, who made his England Test debut in New Zealand at the back end of last year, hopes both men can impress and admits it’s “slightly odd” to be competing with a team-mate and a friend.

The Canterbury-based right-hander said: “I get on really well with Joe and I wish him every success.

“Ideally we’d both play, and we both play together for a long while. That said, he’s desperate to play for England as am I, and we’ll still be good friends whatever happens.”

The intra-squad match will see Crawley and Denly playing in opposing teams captained by Ben Stokes and Jos Buttler.

Crawley opened for his country against South Africa alongside Dominic Sibley and scored a century for England the last time they played, in a game against a Sri Lanka Board President’s XI, but knows Burns’ return could mean he’s looking at the no.3 or four berth.

Joe Denly will be hoping to claim a place in the first Test against West Indies Picture: Andy Payton
Joe Denly will be hoping to claim a place in the first Test against West Indies Picture: Andy Payton

He said: “Rory’s done very well in the games he’s played, he got runs in a very tough Ashes series.

“He’s proven himself to be successful at the Test level. I haven’t quite completely proven myself yet but hopefully, with a couple of scores, I can get to that point.

“I know for a fact that with this competition I will improve. Even if I don’t get the call-up that I want, I’ll only improve as a player because of it. I definitely welcome it and long may it continue. It would be good for the England side if it continues for a long while.

“It’s great to see how much competition there is across the board.

“I’m just concentrating on my own game and trying to get myself in really good touch so they can maybe be impressed with what they see and pick me in the side.”

Crawley, meanwhile, has added his voice to those calling for recreational cricket to return. He’s registered with Kent Cricket League side Sevenoaks Vine along with Kent captain Sam Billings.

“We have friends who want to play. I feel like it’s time to bring it back,” he said.

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