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Has Bazball Passed its Ultimate Test?



Has Bazball Passed its Ultimate Test?

For decades, test cricket has been the pinnacle of the sport. Five gruelling days of runs being accumulated, wickets being shattered, and immense concentration and stamina displayed.

The introduction of one-day and 20/20 cricket accelerated the format of the game and as a result, the style of cricket. Evolution is part and parcel of sport. Over the years, cricket has witnessed bigger hitting as bats get bulkier. The range of shots on display to score runs is staggering to the point of playing with the reverse hand.

England Cricket Team - The Ashes Trent Bridge 2015 | Flickr

But it was not until Ben Stokes and Brendon McCullum got together that a completely new style of test cricket was unearthed. “Bazball” is the first style to merge one-day and test cricketing approaches.

Batters no longer need to bat for days on end. Matches under this regime have not even seen the fourth day crowds on some occasions. Followers of have to be on the ball more to follow the run-flowing carnage that unfolds. The odds can literally change in the blink of an eye.

However, what was deemed experimental can now be considered on the brink of established. No less should have been expected when the two attacking-minded cricketing brains came together. Ben Stokes had already been appointed England captain on 28th April 2022 following Joe Root’s resignation by the time McCullum followed him into the office on 12th May 2022. It was from then that the concept of Bazball was most likely cooked up.

The results since its conception have been mostly positive, but it is the style of play that has been put under the most scrutiny. The swashbuckling plundering of runs as opposed to slowly building an innings has certainly caught the eye but is still very much untested against all style of pitch and conditions. However, England’s win over India in Hyderabad in the first of three tests in January 2024 was another challenge accepted and conquered. In under five days, England managed to overturn a 190-run deficit in the first innings to win by 28 runs. Remarkable considering that was only India’s fourth loss in 47 test matches in India.

There have been drawn series against New Zealand (1-1) and in the most recent Ashes (2-2) but six out of seven matches shared over these two series produced match results, even if only by one run. The back-from-the-dead win in India was a huge test successfully navigated for Bazball. Another test will be how Bazball competes against an Australian attack on Australian pitches, but defeating an India side on pitches advantageous to India’s spin strength is certainly a big vindication of this revolutionary style of test cricket.

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