Famous English legend applauds England’s Bazball approach:
Following defeats, which can not be defined as anything but disgraceful, at the hands of Australian and West Indies teams in Tests, the England Cricket Board started attempts to revamp the management of the team. 4-0 in Ashes in previous winter and 1-0 against Windies earlier this year saw the sacking of English Head coach Chris Silverwood and stepping down of then Captain Joe Root from his leadership post. Both positions, the Skipper and the Head coach, were filled by Ben Stokes and Brendon McCullum respectively. Taking of the reins by both newcomers marked the beginning of, what the English media and fans call and praise, the era of Bazball.
Bazball strategy, named after the Kiwi Head Coach Brendon McCullum, instigated players to replicate the way the New Zealand great used to play during his time – with aggression, intent, positivity and looking to hit bowlers without fear. The introduction of Bazball to Test cricket felt like a peculiar idea but the fact that it reaped fruit instantly earned it nothing from the cricket world but applause. The results it bore were not only instant but so far consistent as well. Since the arrival of Bazball, a term McCullum himself does not fancy much, the English side has played two test series against New Zealand and South Africa. The three Test match series against Kiwis was bested by the Ben Stokes-led men by 3-0, which again owes to nothing more than the dynamic captain-coach duo of England who brought the much talked about Bazball strategy. Similarly, the series against South Africa was won by the three lions by 2-1 after the aggressive approach of the England team larruped the Proteas.
Currently, the English team is in Pakistan where they have returned as a team after 17 years to play a Test series. The first of the three match series began in Rawalpindi where, batting first, Stokes’ men followed the script written by Baz and started trouncing bowlers of Pakistan from the get-go. Their aggressive and positive mindset while batting steered them to shatter several records, one of which saw them getting crowned as the first team to score 500 runs on the first day of a Test match.
By this time, the risky yet reliable Bazball technique was being hailed as the reason Test cricket might undergo metamorphosis. Michael Vaughan, the English cricketer and one of the game’s greats wrote in his column for The Telegraph about the ingenious duo of England, Ben Stokes and Brendon McCullum, and commended their faith in the team and approach which has the potential to revolutionize Test cricket. Vaughan writes, “We have to be honest about what England are doing. They are trying to change Test cricket and, eight games in, it is going pretty well. It’s not like they’ve done it once and then struggled for three games. They had one blip but otherwise it’s been consistently excellent.”
“It is still early days of course, but I expect England to continue this way, and I think we will be talking about this period in years to come. We will look back on it and see Ben Stokes and Brendon McCullum being the dual combination that changed Test match cricket: the way it is played, and the way we think about it.”
The former English Captain further wrote that the way cricket has seen itself being transformed over the years, something like Bazball should not be termed ‘risky’ for the present cohort of cricketers, who were ‘brought up’ to play with this mindset unlike their predecessors in the game who would consider it near-blasphemous to score 7 per over in Test cricket.
“Watch them play these shots. They are what we would have considered risky in my era. They are not risky to them, because they are so conditioned to it from white-ball cricket: paddles, dancing down, reverse sweeps. They are an every-day action these players do. They have trained their brains and bodies to do it again and again. And it’s a sensible way! It sounds mad to say that scoring at close to seven an over isn’t complete bonkers. But these players, with their skill sets – it’s not outrageous. They are brought up to do it.”
The right-handed talks further about this risk-taking mindset of the English side in the following words, “It is all about mindset and language. Kids coming through these days don’t believe that if a bowler is bowling well you can’t score. They don’t respond to the language I grew up with about getting bowlers into their second, third, fourth spells, then capitalizing. They think about how you can take them on. This is the first team to take that mindset into Test cricket, and openly encourage what we consider risk-taking. It is what will help the modern player flourish.”
Talking about the Rawalpindi test match, the inexperienced bowling attack of the host side and the much lambasted pitch in the Pakistani ground, the 48-year old wrote, “This was an incredibly flat pitch and an inexperienced Pakistan bowling attack. But generally Pakistan are the best team in the world at bowling on flat wickets, taking the 22 yards out of the equation. England were just too much. It was not reckless, it was good, strong cricket shots.”
Like any Englishman waiting to settle the scores with the archrivals Aussies in the coming season of Ashes, Vaughan did not forget to wonder how the face-off between Bazball and Australian team will end up. The English batter penned it as, “But people have wondered what will happen each time they take on a new bowling attack, and it keeps going well. In our summer, I reckon the Australians would have been saying “we will have you”. But even Pat Cummins and co will be having sleepless nights now, because this is a juggernaut. It’s not a nice method or mentality to play against at all.”
The Test match between Pakistan and England saw its third sun setting today with Pakistani batters standing at the edge of 500 runs with three timbers in hands and a trail of 158 runs. The penultimate day of the test match will begin tomorrow with fans hoping to see any result other than an ennuyé draw.