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Sri Lanka have to prepare for Zak attack

Zak Crawley is planning a fitting Sri Lankan follow-up to last summer’s career-altering double century which put the young England batsman’s name up in lights.

The 22-year-old Kent batsman hit a magnificent 267 against Pakistan on his last England appearance in August – more than tripling his previous best of 76 in one visit to the crease.

He ruthlessly turned that maiden hundred into his country’s 10th highest score of all time.

By the time he steps out to face Sri Lanka on January 14, for the first of two back-to-back Tests in Galle, almost five months will have passed.

Highlights of his fluent innings occupied a lofty place in many of English cricket’s end-of-year retrospectives and his stock has risen accordingly, but Crawley has resolved not to live on past glories.

“You never really know you can score a Test hundred until you get one. It’s kind of a monkey on your back until you get it, but now I know I can, hopefully I can build on that,” he said.

“It is very early days but I don’t want to be a one-hit wonder, get a big score and then fade away. Hopefully, I can secure my place and I’m not going to be living off that innings for too long.”

Crawley joined the rest of the England squad in a belated first practice session of the trip on Wednesday, having spent three full days in room-based quarantine in Hambantota following Moeen Ali’s positive COVID-19 test.

Moeen, who has begun to show mild symptoms and fatigue, has been isolated from the rest of the group but not moved to Galle as initially planned after the available private accommodation was deemed unacceptable.

The remainder of the travelling party tested negative after their latest round of PCR swabs and were allowed to engage in what the England and Wales Cricket Board termed ‘controlled training’.

Only Chris Woakes, who has been identified as a close contact of Moeen’s, was kept away as he observes a seven-day quarantine.

“I think they (Moeen and Woakes) are doing well. Obviously it’s massively frustrating for them and I feel for them,” said Crawley.

“I’m sure they’ll be good when they come out the other side. The other lads were pretty keen to get out there after days in quarantine and we’re really enjoying it.”

England will attempt an intra-squad warm-up game on Friday in a bid to step up their preparations.

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