What Is Bazball In Cricket  – Explained

Bazball denotes the aggressive and fearless style of playing test matches, which encourages players to represent their natural talent and play with a liberated mindset. The term “Bazball”, is named after Brendon McCullum — the former New Zealand cricketer and present head coach of the England cricket team, who was popularly known as “Baz” during his cricketing days.

In May 2022, the English cricket managing director Rob Key appointed Brendon McCullum as the Test match head coach and Ben Stokes as Test captain. The duo combination started to emphasize disciplined aggression, a change in mindset, and an instant method of scoring runs and revolutionised the traditional method of playing test cricket. Also, the UK editor Andrew Miller introduced the term “Bazball” on an episode of the Switch Hit Podcast.

Let us find out how Bazball cricket has influenced England’s style of playing test cricket and the criticism received in recent times.

How Bazball Started?

On 2nd June 2022, the first test match between England and New Zealand marked the beginning of the Bazball era.

New Zealand were restricted to 132-10 in 40 overs of the first innings and the England batters were leading by just 9 runs after scoring 141-10 in 42.5 overs. However, the New Zealand batters bounced back in their 2nd innings by scoring 285-10 in 91.3 overs.

England batters while chasing a target of 277 lost four wickets of their in-form batters. At 69-4 in 20 overs, it seemed that New Zealand would wrap up England’s innings.

Surprisingly, Joe Root’s unbeaten knock of 115 runs from 170 balls (including 12 fours) and Ben Stokes playing a calming knock of 54 runs from 110 balls (including 5 fours and 3 sixes), propelled England to score 279-5 in 78.5 overs, thereby securing a comfortable victory by 5- wickets.

From this match onwards, the England cricket team redefined the standard method of playing test matches, which led to the popularity of Bazball.

Liberty in choosing

Players can maximize their potential without the fear of experiencing any failures as Bazball is based on the concept of freedom in choosing the best strategies.

Faster methods to score runs

Bazball encourages batters to score runs faster by executing unorthodox shots, similar to the way of playing T20 cricket. For instance, England scored 506-4 on Day 1 of the test match against Pakistan at Rawalpindi in December 2022, which is indeed the highest total in a single day. Also, England posted a total of 657-10 in 101 overs of their 1st innings, riding on the brilliant performances of these four centurions namely:

  • Harry Brook: 153 runs from 116 balls (including 19 fours and 5 sixes) at a strike rate of 131.89.
  • Zak Crawley: 122 runs from 111 balls (including 21 fours) at a strike rate of 109.90.
  • Ollie Pope: 108 runs from 104 balls (including 14 fours) at a strike rate of 103.84.
  • Ben Duckett: 107 runs from 110 balls (including 15 fours) at a strike rate of 97.27.

Aggressive Fielding and Bowling Changes

During Day 2 of the first Ashes Test series in 2023, the former England captain Michael Atherton pointed out that Ben Stokes’s mindset resulted in prioritizing the aggressive field placements and changes in bowling to mainly aim at taking wickets. The unconventional approach brought a drastic change in England’s tactics and resulted in brave leadership decisions.

No Draw Matches

Bazball cricket has eliminated the possibility of a draw test match. Earlier, a 5-day test match between two teams wasn’t sufficient to determine a fair outcome which resulted in the majority of the games concluding with a draw result.

For instance, Ben Stokes boldly declared in the Birmingham Test against Australia expressing his refusal to let the game slow down or deviate. Similarly, England declared their 1st innings in the completing hours of Day 1 against New Zealand in a Day/ Night test match to increase their advantages while bowling. The unique approach ensured that the game was played at a faster pace and with a winning mindset.

Criticism about Bazball

Even though Bazball earned huge success in its early days, it faced severe criticism from fans and experts. Several questions were raised about the Bazball’s adaptability to different pitch conditions and its ability to retain wickets against the challenging bowlers.

Especially, after facing a humiliating 434-run loss against India in the 3rd Test match at Rajkot in February 2024, former England batter Joe Root tried to defend the widespread criticism about the ultra-aggressive strategies executed by the players. He stated that Bazball wasn’t about arrogance, rather it aimed at achieving the best results for the team.

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The Bazball approach mainly became popular after New Zealand faced a complete whitewash against England in the 3-match test series with 0-3 in June 2022.

However, the Bazball technique failed when playing on the overseas pitch conditions in recent times.

Particularly, the recent loss for England in the 5-match test series against India with a margin of 1-4, poses questions about the future of Bazball.

Despite severe criticism, the England cricketers will be striving to enhance the value of Bazball in the upcoming matches and prove to the world how they can be dominant in the red-ball cricket format.

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