Former England captain Michael Vaughan feels the out of form Joe Denly should be the one making way for skipper Joe Root in the second Test against the West Indies instead of Zak Crawley.
In the second Test, scheduled to begin on Thursday in Manchester, either Denly or Crawley is expected to be replaced by Root, who missed the series-opener to be with his wife for the delivery of their second child.
“England have a decision to make on Denly. Crawley surely has to stay in the side,” Vaughan told BBC Sport.
“Joe Denly played the way he has played in all of his 15 Tests. It’s been the same story. He did the hard yards then made a mistake,” Vaughan added.
Denly, who plays at No 3, struggled with the bat in the opening Test, scoring 18 and 29 in the first and second innings respectively. The 34-year-old has failed to breach the 40-run mark in eight innings.
Denly, who made his debut last year, averages 29.53 in 15 Tests and has failed to capitalise on good starts. His highest score of 94 came against Australia in 2019.
On the other hand, 22-year-old Crawley scored his second half-century in five Tests with a superb 76-run knock in the second innings at the Ageas Bowl on Saturday.
“It’s not even a conversation. You could argue that Denly was very lucky to have played 15 Test matches. There are a lot of players who have played only eight Tests and got hundreds,” said Vaughan, who led England in 51 of his 82 Tests.
“He has missed his chance and they have to stick with Crawley. I’m sorry for Denly—he’s just not good enough,” he added.
Asked to speculate on the player who would make way for Root at the Old Trafford, Crawley said it is a “tough scenario”.
“That’s not my place to say. My job is to score runs, and that is what I will try to continue to do as long as I get a chance,” Crawley said. “It is for the powers that be to decide. Joe has done extremely well over the past year and it’s a tough scenario.”
On day four, West Indies captain Jason Holder removed opposing skipper Ben Stokes to trigger an England collapse that saw a late flurry of wickets.
England were 284/8 in their second innings at stumps, and were bowled out early on day five, setting a target of 200 in a match that marks international cricket’s return from lockdown.
England fought back during a fourth-wicket partnership of 98 between Zak Crawley and Stokes.
The hosts were still one run behind West Indies’ first innings 318 when Crawley came to the crease.
But the 22-year-old, in his fifth Test, completed a well-made fifty when he reverse-swept off-spinner Roston Chase for four before surpassing his previous best of 66 against South Africa at Johannesburg in January. Crawley, aiming legside, was caught and bowled by Joseph.
Denly needed a big score to bolster a lowly Test average of under 30. But instead he fell tamely for 29 when chipping Chase to Holder at short midwicket.
(With AFP inputs)