‘Signs are good’ for prospective England debutant Zak Crawley – Paul Collingwood

Crawley is still very much at the developmental stage of his career, though. He is just 21 and, as his first-class batting average of 31.27 illustrates, he is still learning his game. Having played a great deal on the seamer-friendly surfaces at Canterbury, however, those figures are not, perhaps, quite as modest as they seem.

Collingwood is equally optimistic about the prospects for the rest of this side’s batsmen. As a member of the team that won the Ashes in Australia in 2010-11, he thinks he knows what it would take to repeat that result, saying that scoreboard pressure is a vital ingredient.

“I’m very confident that this batting unit, over time, is going to score a lot of runs,” Collingwood said. “I think the mentality of it, the way the guys are working, it feels as though we’ve got the right kind of personnel to score big runs.

“We know what Australia are going to do to us. They’re going to batter us with 90mph bowlers and make us feel uncomfortable with a spinner at the other end who will dry us up. But when we won there in 2010-11, we scored a lot of runs and then you’ve got scoreboard pressure.

“The other challenge is to get those 20 wickets. And that seems to be increasingly difficult. Sides now generally have longer batting orders and the Kookaburra ball can prove difficult to take wickets with. The old school top-of-off with a Dukes ball back in the England doesn’t necessarily work over here. We’ve found ways at times but if you look at history we haven’t really consistently found a formula or a solution.

“But we have to find a way. You can see that New Zealand have a strategy that has worked over time: you’re going to get swing bowlers up front, then Colin de Grandhomme and then Wagner to bounce the living daylights out of you. It’s a system that works for them and it’s our challenge to produce the skills out of our bowlers that work on in these conditions with this ball.

“You look back and see what we were doing well [in 2010-11], and everyone refers back to pace, but we didn’t have much pace actually. It was more down to accuracy – ‘bowling dry’ as we called it – and it was almost playing on their ego, because they wanted to score runs, because it was the Australian way.

“But teams, even Australia, don’t really play with ego any more. They’re very patient. Steve Smith shows that. So you might need a different type of bowler with some extra pace.”