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Paul Collingwood backs Zak Crawley to excel in role of England captain

England’s assistant coach Paul Collingwood has backed Zak Crawley’s attacking game and cricket brain to shine through in his unexpected captaincy stint against Ireland.

Already a Test regular, Crawley has been eager to break into the white-ball setup for some time but even he would not have predicted his big chance would come as skipper.

Yet with the World Cup squad resting up ahead of next month’s World Cup in India, the 25-year-old has been picked to lead a development side in the three-match series.

Crawley has just three ODI caps to his name after answering an SOS from the selectors when a Covid outbreak affected the original squad, but this represents a more intriguing examination – of both his white-ball skills and his future leadership potential.

And Collingwood, who worked closely with Crawley during his outstanding Ashes series this summer and captained England’s limited-overs sides in his playing days, expects him to pass with flying colours.

“Zak’s already had a great summer and a memorable Ashes, so this is a perfect opportunity for him,” Collingwood told the PA news agency.

“It’s just an extension of what he’s been doing. People think coming from red-ball cricket means you need to do things differently but if you look at Zak he’s basically been playing Test match cricket with a white-ball attitude.

“He looks to score, he’s aggressive and he has incredible talent. We all know he’s got those long levers, he’s got the power and he’s got the timing. It should be great to watch.”

Collingwood has no concerns about Crawley being weighed down by the responsibility of captaining in a format he has yet to establish himself in as a batter, citing his mental toughness after a long period of intense scrutiny during leaner times