Crawley emerges as new England star with 267 vs Pakistan

SOUTHAMPTON, England (AP) — Zak Crawley thrust himself into cricket’s global consciousness by hitting 267 in a record-setting partnership with fellow century-maker Jos Buttler on Saturday, leaving England on course to clinch a test series victory over Pakistan.

Only playing the third and final test because Ben Stokes has returned to his native New Zealand for family reasons, the 22-year-old Crawley stated a case to became a regular No. 3 batsman in the England team with a 393-ball knock that put him in 10th place in the all-time list of top scores by an English player.

Crawley, playing in just his eighth test, shared a partnership of 359 runs with Buttler — a record for the fifth wicket for England in tests and its joint-sixth highest ever. Buttler also weighed in with a career-best 152 but was happy to play second fiddle to Crawley, who had every shot in the book — reverse sweeps, whips into the leg side, a chipped drive for six — in a marathon innings that deserved a capacity crowd at the empty Rose Bowl.

“England have found a very good No. 3 in Crawley,” former India captain Sourav Ganguly tweeted during the innings. “Looks a class player .. hope to see him in all formats regularly.”

England captain Joe Root declared on 583-8 — the team’s highest test score in four years — to give his bowlers an hour to target Pakistan’s weary batsmen in the fading light in Southampton.

Jimmy Anderson took advantage, moving onto 596 wickets in his enduring test career by removing openers Shan Masood (4) and Abid Ali (1) in his first three overs and then Babar Azam for 11 off what proved to be the final ball of a dream day for England.

Pakistan closed on 24-3, trailing by 559 with three days remaining and a draw looks the best result the tourists can hope for.

England leads 1-0 and is looking to clinch a first series victory over Pakistan in 10 years, as well as a second of the summer after beating the West Indies 2-1.

While Anderson grabbed the limelight in the final hour to bag figures of 3-13 off 5.5 overs, the day belonged to Crawley, whose previous highest test score was 76 on the same ground last month.

After his marathon innings ended when he was stumped off part-time spinner Asad Shafiq, Pakistan’s players sportingly ran to Crawley to congratulate him as he walked off the field, many giving him fist bumps. He received more applause from the England balcony as players and backroom staff lined up to welcome him back to the pavilion, and also led the team from the field at stumps, tipping his cap on the way.

Crawley passed some great England names as he climbed the all-time list of individual scores with each run he made in the afternoon, moving above the likes of Geoffrey Boycott, Root and Stokes.

“It’s very humbling to be on that kind of list,” said Crawley, who is strong in all areas and can score round the ground.

He even tried — and missed — an uppercut that is usually the domain of the limited-overs specialist.

Among his 34 fours was a clipped shot through the leg side to bring up his 250. He passed 200 with a flash through vacant fourth slip for four, one of his few streak shots of the day.

He is the third youngest England player to score a double-century, after Len Hutton and David Gower.

It was also a big day for Buttler, who reached his second test century just before lunch after surviving a scare on 99 when he was given out caught behind off Mohammad Abbas. The wicketkeeper reviewed and replays showed he hadn’t touched the ball, the noise coming from hitting his pad with his bat.

He reached his hundred off the next ball and Buttler removed his helmet to salute his teammates after an important innings that further quietened the critics calling for him to be dropped because of wicketkeeping mistakes against the West Indies and Pakistan this season. At the start of this series, he acknowledged he was batting for his place in the team.

It was Buttler’s first hundred as England’s wicketkeeper. The other ton — 106 against India two years ago — was as a specialist batsman.

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