Zak Crawley put on a scintillating show that will never be forgotten on day two at Old Trafford, smashing 189 off 182 deliveries to keep England’s hopes of regaining the Ashes alive, with Joe Root and Moeen Ali in strong support.
With wet weather set to significantly impact proceedings, England needed to move the game forward at pace. Crawley obliged with a career-defining knock, one that will go down in the record books for all sorts of reasons.
Most notable was the pace at which Crawley’s runs came. He raced to his hundred off 92 balls, England’s fourth fastest Ashes hundred, and the fastest in over 40 years. Ian Botham made two 86-ball tons in 1981, while Gilbert Jessop’s England record 76-ball century was also an Ashes knock. Crawley’s was the second fastest hundred by an England opener in all Test cricket, and he also holds the record for the fastest, having reached three figures in 86 balls in Rawalpindi last winter.
Crawley’s most exhilarating passage came between lunch and tea, when he crashed 106 runs in a session. He matched the tally hit by Botham in the third session of day four at Headingley in 1981, meaning that no England batter has hit more runs in an Ashes session in 100 years – Charles Mead hit 109 runs before lunch in the Oval Test of 1921.
Crawley didn’t just get to three figures quickly, he carried on to a properly sizeable score, and maintained his scoring pace. There has been only one quicker 150-plus score in Ashes history – Adam Gilchrist’s 143-ball 152 in 2001. It was also the quickest 150-plus score by an England opener in any Test match.
Crawley had help, first from Moeen Ali and then from Joe Root. Moeen, an emergency replacement at No.3, carved his first Test fifty since early 2019, and brought up 3,000 Test runs in the process. He joined a select club that now includes 16 all-rounders who have made 3,000 runs and taken 200 wickets in Test cricket.
Joe Root then built on the platform in style. He moved to his 59th Test half-century and put on 206 runs with Crawley in 29.4 overs, a run rate of 6.94 runs per over. That makes it the fastest double-century stand in the history of Test cricket.
A stunning effort.
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