Cricket: Crawley always comes prepared

David Llewellyn on the batsman who was forced behind the stumps
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The Independent Online
There has always been something of the scout about John Crawley; he looks the clean-cut, all-England sporting hero and yesterday he revealed another element which adds to that impression.

When it transpired that Alec Stewart was suffering muscular spasms in his back - "I couldn't touch my knees, let alone my ankles," said the Surrey man - and would be unable to take his place behind the stumps on Saturday, step forward young Crawley of the 2nd Old Trafford, 1st Lancashire scout troop.

"I'm probably the only one who can put on the pads in this sort of situation," came the explanation. He was certainly the only one who had his own wicketkeeping gloves. Blue ones. "I always keep my gloves in the bottom of my bag," said the 25-year-old Crawley, who clearly knows the scout motto: Be prepared.

At 6ft 2in Crawley may appear a trifle too tall, but just the fact that he carries specialist gloves around suggests a certain familiarity with the job. "I hadn't kept wicket since the mid-80s on a regular basis," he admitted. "But just last week, in the Sunday League match, Warren Hegg was injured so I stood in for him against Kent."

But Stewart's job is safe. He was back behind the stumps last night secure in the knowledge that Crawley will be concentrating on his batting, and with three scores of one and a 40 not out in his last four Test outings that sounds sensible. "I used to keep for England Under 15s and Under 16s, but I haven't been able to keep it going as much I would have liked because of my batting and on recent results that's probably just as well," he explained, while reflecting on a dismal performance by the England top six first time around.

"All out 77 has to be bad batting in a way, but things went pretty well for the Australians too," he explained, "and the wicket had a few cracks in dangerous areas even before the start." He hastily added that the danger was of the batsman losing his wicket rather than his head.

He also referred to the poor showing in the field when five catches and a couple of run-outs went begging. Crawley said: "After the euphoria of Edgbaston this has been a bit of a knock. We are not proud of what has happened. But they could have been 100 for five or six if we had taken our chances. It is a measure of the Australian team that they have come back after what happened at Edgbaston, and we have to recover from this."