Bazball at it again

Bazball At It Again: England Declares in 58 Overs On the First Day of The First Test Match Against New Zealand.

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Traditionally in Test cricket, it is the bowler’s job to take wickets and win the game. How dominating they be, shapes the tone of the game. A new approach is the Bazball approach, which tries to be unconventional in a traditionally styled format of Test cricket. It defies some of cricket’s long-standing assumptions on how to play, specifically the approach to batting. We have heard experts in Test cricket say, give the first 2 hours to the bowler and bat cautiously and plan your innings by accessing the pitch and going forward. Bazball questions this approach by adopting a first hit and asking a later approach. In the ongoing Test series between the Kiwis and the England team, the world of cricket witnessed absolute high drama when England mesmerised the crowd in Mount Maungani with some aggressive batting to declare the first innings at 325 -9, and in the 59th over to have a crack at the New Zealand batting line up by end of day 1. The plan worked and New Zealand lost 3 wkts by close of play in the Day-Night Test at the Bay Oval. Swashbuckling half-centuries from Ben Duckett and Harry Brook gave a fare idea of the English approach and how the two-Test series is headed with the sort of attacking, famously now dubbed as  “Bazball”. While it still does not go down well with experts and former players who have played the game in the traditional manner, this approach, however has seen success with England winning 9 out of their 10 Test played under coach Brendon McCullum. Very few times have we seen a team declare their batting Innings on the first day of a Test match. England captain Ben Stokes rallied around his men and asked the lower order batters to go hard for leather before declaring with a clear intention to take a chance with the top order New Zealand batting, leaving them 18 overs to bat under lights with a new pink ball. Tom Latham, Kane Williamson and Henry Nicholls were the 3 victims in England’s 18 over stay at close of the day’s play. Most of England’s wickets fell to the aggressive approach of the batsmen including Root, on 14, who failed an attempted reverse lap off a fast bowler. Tim Southee won the toss and sent England in to bat on a green wicket, but the home captain would have quickly realised his mistake as the Kiwis were 288 runs by end of days play. The Bazball method’s simplicity lies in confusion-less cricket. Attacking all the time is the key, but not attacking blindly is the mantra. England reached a total of 506/4 at the end of the day’s play in the three-match Test series between England and Pakistan recently England, who have won nine out of their last 10 tests since their attacking ‘Bazball’ revolution are on a mission to win their first test series in New Zealand since 2008. England is however out of the World Test Championship race but making lot of noise with their style of play to be ready for the next championship cycle.

What’s Bazball and why is it the right approach to keep Test cricket alive?

  • Attack is the best form of defence
  • Bazball works in all conditions
The critics of Bazball were sure that the Bazball theory works only against weak bowling attacks in England. But they cleared those doubts with series wins against New Zealand, South Africa and Pakistan recently. The approach worked even in the placid dead pitches of Pakistan. In Rawalpindi, the English batters scored more than five hundred runs on the first day. It is not just aggressive batting or bowling but bold declaration to bring in results in Test Match cricket. In Rawalpindi in a dead Pitch, the English Team declared boldly for Pakistan to chase a seemingly achievable target only to be bowled out by the English Bowlers to win the Test narrowly. A similar approach in Multan helped England to win the Test match. Bazball is a meticulous approach of never letting the game die and always seeking results. Test cricket is also in peril with people’s interests turning to shorter formats like T20, The Hundred and T10. Such Innovation will be welcomed by the young cricket generation but will be viewed more cautiously by the earlier generation of cricketers. To save the traditional format new cricket moves like the Bazball approach may be adopted by other teams as they would make results inevitable even with the red ball. Even Draws would be an attractive proposition with one team trying to win and one team trying to defend aggressively. Past saw the Likes of Sehwag, Gilchrist playing unconventional Test Cricket and being successful. In the current era, Rishabh Pant comes to mind with his over aggressive approach. Rishabh pant has not only been consistent, he has been the catalyst and being the lion share contributor to the recent India wins at home and away test matches. While these are individual players who adopt the aggressive mode, Bazball encourages the entire team to approach the game in ultra-aggressive mode. This generation’s finest and a legend in his own right, Joe Root’s dismissal was trolled in social media as he got out on a reverse sweep. While there may be a method to this madness, the cricket world will be divided for sometime with this approach    

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