Zac Crawley reacts to ‘shock’ England captaincy call for Ireland series

Skipper: Zac Crawley  (PA)
Skipper: Zac Crawley (PA)

Zak Crawley admits he was “shocked” to be asked to captain England for the first time as he prepares to lead the One-Day side into action against Ireland tomorrow.

Crawley has been named skipper of what is almost entirely a second-string squad to face Andrew Balbirnie’s men in a three-match series which starts at Headingley on Wednesday.

The 25-year-old has himself played just three ODIs, all in the 2021 series against Pakistan, when a Covid outbreak forced England to scramble together a reserve side at the 11th hour.

The batter’s stock is sky high, however, off the back of a superb Ashes series in which he was England’s leading run-maker and the opportunity to captain his country is further evidence of the set-up’s faith in the Kent opener.

“I was shocked,” Crawley said. “I was just hoping to get in the team and play more for England. They told me I was captain and it's a great opportunity for me.

“It was Motty [head coach Matthew Mott], that gave me the call to say I’d be in the squad and captaining. It was as simple as that, he was doing the rounds phoning everyone else so it was a pretty brief phone call but a pretty good call.”

Fourteen of England’s final 15-man squad for the World Cup in India have been rested for the Ireland matches, with Joe Buttler’s men due to fly to the subcontinent the day after the series finishes.

The exception is Joe Root, who has asked to play the opener in Leeds having struggled for form during the recent series victory against New Zealand.

The 32-year-old’s inclusion means that while Crawley will be making his captaincy debut, he will be able to lean on the experience of a man who led the Test side on more occasions than any player in England history before handing the armband to Ben Stokes at the start of last summer.

“Obviously having Joe in the team makes it stronger, no matter what team you're in,” Crawley added. “It's great having him and especially so for me as captain because I can lean on him for that kind of stuff. That's awesome and hopefully he gets what he wants from it.”