Zak Crawley will miss the start of England’s Test series against India after a “freak incident” saw him slip on a marble floor and sprain his wrist.
Crawley was leaving the dressing room in Chennai on Tuesday when he took a tumble on the uncovered surface and landed hard on his right hand.
He missed training 24 hours later, his 23rd birthday, with scans eventually showing a sprain and inflammation in the joint, ruling the Kent batsman out of Friday’s opening match and the follow-up at the same ground.
England have since taken measures to ensure nobody else suffers the same fate as Crawley but it is too late for the man who had been pencilled in to bat at number three.
“It was a real freak incident where he was walking out the changing room, slipped over and landed on his wrist,” explained captain Joe Root.
“It’s really frustrating for Zak and hard for him to take. It’s not something you first think about when you turn up to a ground, trying not to fall over. It was a freak accident and hopefully that will be the last of it, and no one falls to the same thing.
“We initially just put some towels down and since then they’ve put something more substantial down. We know we’ve got to be careful.”
Crawley’s misfortune is likely to prove good news for Dan Lawrence, who made his international bow in last month’s series win in Sri Lanka but was expecting to drop out following the returns of Rory Burns, Ben Stokes and Ollie Pope.
He could now be asked to take a turn at number three, leaving Root and Stokes to occupy their preferred slots at four and five, with Pope coming back at six following his recovery from a dislocated shoulder.
“Of course it means we have to look at things from a selection point of view,” offered Root.
“We’ve got some brilliant players, brilliant options, to choose from. One thing we’ve had in the recent past is that competition for places, a bit more depth within our squad and not such heavy reliance on certain individuals, which might not have been the case a few years ago.
“It’s really exciting times and guys have just got to really grasp those opportunities if they get them.”
Root will join a special club when he joins Virat Kohli for the toss at the M.A Chidambaram Stadium, becoming only the 15th Englishman to win 100 Test caps.
Each of his previous 99 appearances have come behind a subscription paywall, but he will bring up his century in front on free-to-air terrestrial television after Channel 4 secured the rights to the series.
Root was still dreaming of a future in England whites when the broadcaster last showed Test cricket in 2005 and has fond memories of devouring the coverage, including its memorable theme tune.
— Channel 4 Press (@C4Press) February 3, 2021
“It was a huge part of my childhood growing up, turning on and listening to Mambo Number Five, that was always a favourite song of mine purely because it was associated with Test cricket,” he said.
“That accessibility meant I could watch all the time, and as often as possible. Those are really fond memories. I look back now and I associate that with playing Test matches in the garden with my brother. It was all through watching the coverage there.
“This is a great opportunity to reach out to a new audience, to grow the game and for it to be more accessible for everyone else. I think it’s a great thing for the sport and hopefully people will tune in and watch us and have something to smile about at the end of it.”
Channel 4 will be using Mambo Number 5 in the credits for the India-England Test series
— Tim Wigmore (@timwig) February 3, 2021
Root is under no illusion about the size of the challenge ahead over the coming days and weeks, with India back on home turf following a victorious trip to Australia, but is simply happy to continue fulfilling the ambitions he had as an aspiring youngster in Sheffield.
“I think walking out for the first time in an England shirt is probably the proudest moment,” he said, reflecting on his fondest memories.
“I look back on walking out to bat and seeing Kevin Pietersen stood at the other end, someone who I watched as a teenager and a kid growing up, and I couldn’t stop smiling. I was living my childhood dream and ever since have been.
“If I’m ever going through a lean spell where things aren’t quite falling for me, I try and look back at that moment and remember what that feeling was like and embrace that really excitable young lad.”