Tuesday 22 December 2020 8:00 am

Chris Tremlett: Why Zak Crawley's double century was my cricket highlight of 2020

How a player starts their international career can be defining, so my cricket highlight of 2020 was a young man laying down a marker.

Zak Crawley’s double century for England in the third Test against the West Indies during the summer was really impressive. 

A performance like that should fill the 22-year-old Kent batsman with confidence and remove any doubts he had about belonging at that level.

Crawley had already had a taste of Test cricket, on last winter’s tours of New Zealand and South Africa.

His call-up followed some impressive displays for his county, with Rob Key among those who spoke very highly of him. 

He made just one run on debut in Hamilton but got another chance in South Africa. There he made some half-decent knocks, albeit with some disappointing dismissals.

As with any young player, it can take time to feel comfortable in the England team.

Suddenly the cameras are on you, the Sky commentators are there and the world is watching.

I was a nervous wreck on my debut

I remember my Test debut against India at Lord’s in 2007. For my first over I was a nervous wreck.

All I wanted was to get it out of the way. I wasn’t trying to get a wicket, just to avoid embarrassing myself. 

But I bowled quite well and it settled me down. I got four wickets and that was enough for me to feel like I belonged there.

Although I’d worked hard for a long time to get there, it could have gone the other way. 

If I had gone for a hundred it might have been a very different story. 

Lucky for me, I didn’t. And although I’d be out of the side for a while again, I always believed I was good enough.  

Crawley has that now. A batsman who starts with a duck or is averaging 15 after a few Tests is likely to find a lot harder to come back mentally. 

Although he wasn’t under the pressure of an Ashes Test, Crawley’s 267 was still a huge double ton. No one can take that away now.

He looks a class act with a really bright future. Hopefully he will be a mainstay of the Test side for the next 10 years.

De Villiers and Archer light up IPL

Away from Crawley, the limited amount of cricket meant there were fewer outstanding moments. 

And the absence of fans in grounds meant the action that did take place just wasn’t the same.

I did enjoy watching the Indian Premier League, though, which seemed to work well on TV despite empty venues.

AB de Villiers and Jofra Archer in particular lit up the IPL. 

We don’t get to see De Villiers in international cricket any more but he is still a genius and makes batting look so easy. 

If South Africa do get him out of retirement for the T20 World Cup next year it’ll be a big boost.

I’m a big fan of Archer so it was great to see him bowling fast again.

He looks comfortable in the IPL and T20 cricket, which seems to get the best out of him.

Aside from that, it’s been a crap year for so many people and a bizarre one for sport. 

I take my hat off to those who managed to put on some cricket in 2020, and the players who had to live in bubbles and take so many Covid tests. 

It can’t have been easy, but they gave people some much-needed entertainment to cheer about.