‘Bazball’: England cricket’s glorious new look
A staggering turnaround has taken place under Brendon McCullum and Ben Stokes
“Bazball”: that’s what they’re calling the relentlessly aggressive approach to Test cricket that England have embraced under new head coach Brendon McCullum, said Nick Hoult in The Daily Telegraph. And on Tuesday at Edgbaston, the strategy notched up another triumph. In their single Test against India (completing the series begun last summer), England did what they’d already done to New Zealand three times this summer: they made mincemeat of a fourth-innings run chase that had seemed out of reach. Having dominated the first three days, India were bowled out for 245 in their second innings, leaving England 378 for victory – a total higher than any they’d chased in their 145 years of Test cricket.
Yet they made it look easy, said Ali Martin in The Guardian. After Alex Lees and Zak Crawley had blazed their way to “England’s fastest century opening stand in history”, England briefly faltered, losing three wickets for two runs. But that merely brought Joe Root and Jonny Bairstow together – two batsmen enjoying “remarkable purple patches”. And they completed the job with an unbroken stand of 254, both “finessing a pair of slick centuries”.
Surreal to think that, six weeks ago, England were the “laughing stock of world cricket”, said Lawrence Booth in the Daily Mail. Under McCullum and new captain Ben Stokes, a staggering turnaround has taken place, and “in a style that has mocked Test cricket’s prevailing wisdom”. Fourth-innings run chases are meant to favour the bowling side, but England have now successfully chased scores of more than 250 in four successive matches – at a run rate of nearly five per over. There’ll be times when “Bazball” won’t work, said Mike Atherton in The Times: “on pitches that deteriorate, for example, or in sunnier, hotter climes”. But for now, England “are a team transformed”. Australia, who tour here next summer, will undoubtedly “have taken note”.