Were it not for the white strips, the red ball and Australian field placements that would have contravened most powerplay restrictions, one might have been forgiven for thinking Zak Crawley had been playing one-day cricket all summer.
The batter's 480 Ashes runs came at a strike-rate just shy of 89, his magnum opus innings of 189 at Old Trafford lasting just 182 balls and his intent from the outset the catalyst for an England team determined to play their cricket on the front foot.
The reality is that Wednesday’s first ODI against Ireland, in which Crawley will captain England in the absence of Jos Buttler and most of his World Cup squadron, will also be just his fourth ever, the previous three coming as part of the scramble crew that beat Pakistan 3-0 in the summer of 2021 after being summoned to steer the ship through a Covid emergency.
Such is the domestic game’s prioritising these days that the last of those matches was also Crawley’s last 50-over outing full stop, and instead it is the eye test, those June and July days spent watching that glorious array of drives, that provides the inkling that England’s Test opener ought to be making a smooth transition to the 50-over form.
“It's very similar, maybe a little bit more premeditation at times, but I'll try to play the same shots,” said Crawley, who is much more stroke-maker than power-hitter.
Indeed, that Manchester epic included 24 boundaries but only three of them maximums. “I have tried to add couple of shots for T20 but ODI might be different,” he said. “In 50-over cricket, it's more proper shots like I normally play.”
If it appears obvious that Crawley has the game for the gig, then the tactical brain is a little more of an unknown. His senior captaincy experience consists of just four matches, two in each of the Blast and County Championship for Kent. Little wonder, then, that he was “shocked” to be handed the armband for this series, though the ambition to lead has been bubbling away.
“I remember Shane Warne saying you should always think like a captain when you're playing,” he said. “I've done that since I was a kid.”
I remember Shane Warne saying you should always think like a captain when you’re playing... I’ve done that since I was a kid
Evidence that the 25-year-old’s interim stint does not come with full privileges could be found in his admission, less than 24 hours out from the toss, that he does not yet know where he will bat, but England clearly have half an eye on succession planning, particularly in the Test side, for all Ollie Pope is incumbent as vice-captain to Ben Stokes.
“The good thing Baz [Brendon McCullum] has done and Stokesy is they've encouraged everyone to speak up,” Crawley said. “You feel very comfortable speaking up in the dressing room.
“I certainly think that's happened more in the last couple of years, more people have come out of the woodwork and led from the front, that's most of the squad. There's leaders everywhere you look.”
Any permanent transfer of power may still be some years away in either Test or limited-overs formats, but a changing of the guard in the 50-over side looks imminent, the autumn’s World Cup being billed as something of a last hurrah for the generation of cricketers that have transformed England’s white-ball standing.
Several of the thirty-somethings are considering ODI retirement in the coming months, while even those who stay on beyond India will do well to get as far as South Africa in 2027.
England’s white-ball depth has been much championed in recent years and so it is that there is little remarkable in hugely talented players like Ben Duckett, Will Jacks and Phil Salt lining up in a second-string team against Ireland instead of preparing for the World Cup.
“We’re trying to get this group to become the main team one day,” Crawley said. “We’re looking at the future and trying to emulate those guys above and doing the same things, playing the same positive way and try to copy them as much as possible.”
In truth, Crawley’s own white-ball career has not been much of a talking point in recent years, the stand-in skipper having enough on his plate in trying to hold down a Test shirt.
But the Ashes have changed a previously maligned figure’s standing and doors are opening, with a winter Big Bash deal in the bag and the possibility of a white-ball tour to the West Indies in December. There, England will likely rest senior figures again on the back of their World Cup endeavours but Crawley is not getting carried away with the prospect of a run of Caribbean captaincy.
“I’d just be keen to go on that tour, to be honest,” he added. “If it works out that way that they want me to lead that then we’ll cross that bridge when it comes. But I’d love to be on that tour as a player and we’ll see how it goes from there.”