Indian spinner Ravichandran Ashwin warns the Indian bowlers about the Bazball approach England had adopted in the Test series. As a teammate and a bowler, Ashwin thinks that England’s new Test Cricket format will not be viable in the long run.
Ever since Brendon McCullum took over as England’s Test coach, the team started displaying an aggressive brand of cricket. The team clean-sweeped the champions New Zealand 3-0 at home and then draw India vs England 5th rescheduled Test 2-2. In the 5th Test against India at Edgbaston, England registered the highest successful chase ever in Test history, 378 runs. In both the games, England displayed their aggressive brand of cricket – named Bazball, derived from McCullum’s nickname Baz. McCullum played the same aggressive brand of cricket during his match days.
In a podcast with the Vaughany and Tuffers Cricket Club, Ashwin noted that the conditions in England enabled them to play an aggressive style of cricket. “It was amazing to watch, but as a bowler, it is quite scary to think where the game is headed. I definitely think the ball and the pitches have a role to play in how England are playing, permitting a certain brand of cricket.”
From a bowler’s point of view, Ashwin is not sure whether this is the ideal form of Test Cricket. An unexpected daring reverse sweep from Joe Root and Bairstow’s century in fewer balls than a run are some examples of the bazball. Fear of nothing and nothing being impossible is their policy in this concept.
Regarding England’s new model, one of the largest concerns is how it will be implemented and maintained in foreign environments. On their way to their victories thus far at home, the Ben Stokes-led team has encountered strong batting surfaces. It will be interesting to see if they can recreate the same on worn-out surfaces, particularly in the subcontinent. When England hosts South Africa later this month, they will get another chance to play ‘bazball’.
“I think we need to be careful about this brand of cricket being the way forward. Test cricket has been the same for hundreds of years and there will be games and series that are played like that. Whether it’s the same brand of cricket you play all along is very debatable.” Said Ashwin.
Although the long history of Test Cricket has seen a glacial-like progression, the introduction of the ‘bazball’ may represent an unexpected change in trend. In order to combat the trend, teams should use alternative strategies which will essentially alter the entire format.
Ashwin also commented about the balance between the bat and ball in the ODI format. “The one-day format used to be a format where bowlers had a say. Even me, as a cricket badger and a cricket nut, I switch off the TV after a point and that’s frankly very scary for the format of the game. When those ebbs and flows go missing, it’s not cricket anymore. It’s just an extended form of T20,”. Ashwin believes that ODI and Test cricket needs to find their relevance.
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