High praise from Lloyd

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The Independent Online
For a lot of batsmen, six runs short of a maiden Test century would be an anxiety-inducing position to be in at the close of play. But by his own assessment, and that of David Lloyd, John Crawley is not the kind of man who would have spent last night pacing his hotel room, pausing only to practise one of his elegant cover-drives in front of the wardrobe mirror.

"Ruthless and uncompromising" was how Lloyd described Crawley, but the man himself seemed only to half-recognise whoever the England coach had in mind. "If he says so," Crawley said, smiling into his glass of orange juice.

Of course, it would be a "great feeling" to reach three figures, he said, but that was not going to stop him having a decent night's sleep. Fatigue would win out over nerves. "I tired a bit towards the end. But sometimes it goes like that. You've just got to battle it out."

For Crawley, the battle has been a long one, starting with his unhappy tour of Australia in 1994/95, when he was physically not up to the job. "When you first play, you like to do as well as possible, and if you don't you realise you have to work out a new approach and look at your whole professional lifestyle," he said. "It hasn't changed much but I've worked hard on certain aspects and I lost some weight, but I shouldn't have been carrying it in the first place. So it wasn't a great achievement."

A stone and a half lighter, Crawley set off for last winter's tour of South Africa, only for it to end prematurely when he suffered a hamstring injury. He had yet another setback at the start of this season when his other hamstring went.

Lloyd, meanwhile, was looking for the team to reach a minimum of 400, though: "I would have liked more at the start of the day." There were a couple of "bizarre" dismissals, but he drew great encouragement from Crawley's performance. "He's really got stature at the crease," Lloyd said. "At times he can't believe he's out - that's how confident he is. He took it upon himself to get in good shape, he's always hungry to develop his game. In short, he's what we need in our team."