Zak Crawley experienced “an unbelievable feeling of elation” the moment he reached a maiden Test century on the first day of the final Test against Pakistan.
Crawley, the 22-year-old from Kent, has earned a reputation as one of the hardest workers in game. But the moment he reached the milestone, he says his career “flashed before my eyes” and he knew all the hard work was worth it.
“I could see the nets,” he said. “I could see all the times I’ve gone to hit balls on my own. You do question yourself when you’re in a run of ducks.
“But it all seemed worth it. It was a feeling that it was all worth it.
“It’s the best feeling I’ve had on a cricket field. Just how I imagined it. It was an unbelievable feeling of elation out there and it makes you want it more. Hopefully there are a few more to come after this.”
Crawley, who had only three first-class centuries heading into this game, admitted he experienced some nervous moments as the milestone approached; not least when the tea interval was taken when he had 97.
“I was really nervous,” he said. “It was good I didn’t see tea coming because I might have tried to play a big shot. I wouldn’t have chosen to be on 97 at tea.”
As it was, he brought up his hundred in the first over after the break with a punch through the covers off Mohammad Abbas.
“I was on 99 with one ball of the over left and I didn’t want to have to wait an over on 99,” he said. “So I was determined to play a shot to that ball.
“To find the gap and to run two and come back knowing I had my first Test hundred… I was trying to stay calm but inside I was absolutely buzzing.”
Early in Crawley’s career, he realised he had improvement to make against spin bowling, so he paid for himself to travel to Mumbai where he took part in a training camp. At other times, he has travelled to Perth to work with renowned batting coach, ‘Noddy’ Holder and spent a couple of winters playing Grade cricket.
“I try to go over to Perth every year,” he said, “I’ve been four or five times. I’ve enjoyed working with Noddy. He’s a brilliant coach and I love the way he talks about the game.
“I do as much work as I can with Rob Key over the summer. I try to see him once a month to stay in check. He has a great cricket brain.
“I did go out to India, but most of the lads have done that. I’m no different. There’s been a lot of hard work, but I wouldn’t swap it for anything, I’ve enjoyed it. It feels worth it now.”