Former England skipper Nasser Hussain believes the upcoming Test series against New Zealand will be a crucial one for for Zak Crawley. With a few other players knocking on the doors for selection, Hussain thinks the young opener must make the most of his opportunities.
Crawley, who made his Test debut in 2019, has received plenty of backing from the selectors. The right-handed batter's breakthrough knock came against Pakistan when he made 267 in Southampton in 2020. He had a forgettable 2021 but did decently in Australia and the West Indies; however, he needs to build consistency.
Speaking on Sky Sports, Hussain said that the likes of Sam Robson, Tom Haines, and Ben Compton have been piling up runs in county cricket. Hence, the 54-year old feels Crawley and Alex Lees must step up against the Kiwis.
"I think it's a massive two games for Zak Crawley because Compton got another hundred yesterday against the touring side New Zealand. He's getting runs for fun. Sam Robson, I think, has come back and done very well in the last couple of years. The lad Tom Haines down at Sussex. Rob Key has spoken about him. So, there are two or three opening batters out there pushing for selection. So, it's a big couple of games ahead for those two openers."
Hussain lavished praise on Yorkshire batter Harry Brook and Durham paceman Matthew Potts for their performances in County cricket, elaborating:
"They've gone with two form horses - one with the bat in Harry Brook. He just can't stop scoring runs in any format. You put on your TV and he makes 50-60 not out and he's just phenomenal. He's got big runs in the Championship and Potts has got 35 first-class wickets, again in front of the England captain. That doesn't you any harm, especially with the long list of injuries in the bowling department."
Brook and Potts are the only two uncapped players in England's 13-man for the first two Tests against New Zealand. Brook has smashed 840 runs in six matches at 140 in County Championship division one, while Potts has taken 35 scalps in six games at 18.57 in division two.
"There is sudden turmoil in English cricket and everyone has changed" - Nasser Hussain
The 96-Test veteran stated that England had a tricky task ahead of them while selecting the squad, considering the players of the old and the new era. Hussain believes Lees deserved a chance after three Tests against the West Indies and for playing well for Durham.
"It's a safe squad, isn't it? It's difficult when a new era comes in because they have to be a little bit loyal with the previous era and their players. There is sudden turmoil in English cricket and everyone has changed. Alex Lees has played only three Test matches, so you've got to give him another go, especially coming back, he has scored loads of runs in front of the England captain Ben Stokes at Durham. He's played well."
The first Test between England and New Zealand starts on Thursday at Lord's.