England opener Zak Crawley has said that he is unaffected by online discussion regarding his place in the England side after the Kent batter was retained in the squad for the first Test of the summer against Ireland at Lord’s.

Since his first England call-up in 2019, Crawley’s pronounced highs in an England shirt have been surrounded by prolonged periods of low scores. His 267 against Pakistan at the Ageas Bowl in 2020 was the fifth-highest individual Test score by a player aged 22 or under, while his 111-ball 122 at Rawalpindi last year was the fastest Test hundred by an England opener.

In 2021, Crawley averaged a dire 10.81 across eight Tests while in the 2022 home summer he averaged exactly 23. Even in the 2022/23 winter, which includes that Rawalpindi century, Crawley averaged less than 30 across England’s five Tests.

Crawley was backed by England’s managing director of men’s cricket Rob Key at the unveiling of the 15-man squad for the Ireland Test. “We’re not so much down the road of averages and pure stats,” said Key. “It’s about how do you impact games of cricket.

“There are moments in games where that opening partnership was match defining. Against India, where him and Alex Lees put on a partnership that helped Jonny and Joe chase the rest of the score down, that opening stand was part of a match-winning performance.”

Speaking to BBC Sport following the squad announcement, Crawley said that he was undeterred by online speculation over his inclusion and that his failings in international cricket have been due to him “putting too much pressure” on himself.

“I never see any of that [online criticism]. I talk to guys who do have social media and they see that. They see Joe Bloggs having a go at them.

“[Being off] social media helps me get away from the average punter and what they have to say which, of course, I don’t care anyway. At times last year I certainly felt I was getting a lot of scrutiny, some of it unwarranted. I was playing OK and getting decent scores and I was still getting scrutiny, but it is easy to comment.

“I obviously definitely still see the pundits and the people higher up in cricket and of course I didn’t have to read the papers to know my place was under scrutiny. I haven’t been getting the runs I should have, but I have had a few good knocks.

“My failings in international cricket have been from putting too much pressure on myself. That is the only reason. Whenever I have gone out there with the right attitude I have done well.”

While not exactly setting the world alight in the 2023 County Championship, Crawley is arguably enjoying his best start to a county season yet. Crawley didn’t score a century across 21 consecutive County Championship appearances across the 2021 and 2022 seasons but scored 170 against Essex earlier this summer and averages just under 40 for a misfiring Kent line-up so far this season.

“I have done a lot of thinking about my game, especially in the last couple of months,” he added. “I look back at times I have played well and I take the expectation away from myself and I just try and play.

“A lot of people talk about scoring hundreds all of the time in cricket. I am coming to believe that is nonsense.”