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Bazball: England’s new brand of Test Cricket

Something only constitutes a standard or a custom if it has been done so for a prolonged period of time. Same has been with test cricket, playing cautious and safe cricket has been the sought-out course for all test nations for over hundred years. And historically, the strategy has usually been the one that has produced results.

But every now and then, someone arrives and disputes those ideas.  Cricket also experiences this. The game was played in a particular manner in the late 19th century. However, by the closure of 20th century, it had transformed into something very contrasting. Cricket in the twenty-first century is completely different from what it was a few centuries before, despite the fact that its fundamental ideas (scoring runs and getting wickets) have stayed the same.

Sir Don Bradman

What is Bazball?

Bazball of England is unique. You should be able to determine what the world is dealing with just from that. You start to realize how big this is and how significant it may be in the future years as you look further and try to comprehend what impact it might have on the game. For those who are unaware, the word “Bazball” generally refers to the style of cricket England has advocated after Brendon McCullum took charge as their Test team’s head coach. It focuses on aggressive batting and targeting lines and lengths in bowling.

Four consecutive Test victories have already resulted from it, which is impressive considering England had only previously succeeded once in 17 attempts. The way in which these victories were achieved, however, is what has made this seem like a revolution that cricket deserved but one that many did not believe it required. In their matchup with New Zealand, England very brazenly expressed their appreciation for brave batting.

Ben Stokes and Brendon Mccullum (Brains behind Bazball)

It didn’t appear right away at Lord’s. Many people questioned why all the fuss was made after England was bowled out for 141 in response to New Zealand’s 132. But England was convinced. They were certain that they could bring what they were attempting to accomplish in practice.

They engineered a stunning 277-run chase in the 4th innings. During which Joe Root scored his first hundred in the fourth innings of a test match. Even though it didn’t seem like a significant shift, they played at a little above the run rate of 3.5. However, they did seem less fearful of their own shadows and were happier than they’d been in recent years.

Highest run-rate by a team in calendar year

4.47 - Australia in 1910 (2 Tests)
4.13 - England in 2022 (15 Tests)
4.08 - Australia in 2003 (12 Tests)
3.99 - Australia in 2002 (11 Tests)
3.98 - South Africa in 1902 (3 Tests)

Bazball is here to stay

There is barely any evidence to suggest that England has regressed over the past few weeks. They have successfully engaged in what many people believed to be impossible fire-with-fire combat. Their dedication to Bazball has been the key factor in all of this. Therefore, it is high time to uncover the strategy. In a nutshell, it is a mindset in which the finest form of defense is an attack. Where making shots takes priority over spending time at the crease and run restriction is replaced by efforts to take wickets.

However, the belief that penetrates every member of the team is the foundation of this strategy. It is the conviction that they can act in accordance with their moral principles and that they won’t be fired at the dropping of a hat. The conviction that they have the power to instill dread in the hearts of even the most accomplished teams. Additionally, the perception of terror will allow them to feel 10 feet tall even when they aren’t exactly at their best.

The fact that everyone has this attitude—that anything is possible—is what matters most. Ben Stokes cheekily joked that he wanted India to reach 450 in order to witness how England would respond after watching his team sail to victory.  After the 5th Test versus India, Stokes (to cite Jack Leach) similarly asserted that teams may be superior to them, but he promised that England would always be the most courageous of them.

Is it sustainable?

India was clearly the superior team for three and a half days at Edgbaston. Putting England under pressure and making them wonder if Bazball was really sustainable. However, the hosts displayed more bravery. The people who play cricket believed that such a thing was impossible. It is something that should be laughed at and dismissed as an isolated incident. Something that may be employed to show future players that this is not how to conduct Test cricket – a format that has long been associated with its traditional practices. However, England proved everyone wrong.

English Team congratulating Stokes on a wicket

In the recent series against Pakistan, England went bonkers and scored at 5.5 runs per over for three tests. There were times, when their openers were smashing the ball all around the park and scoring at a run rate of over 8, giving spectators a taste of T20 cricket in white uniform. They did manage to sweep the series. However, it is to be seen that how long this approach would really work. As at the end of the day, the opposition only needs ten good balls.

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