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Will England’s Bazball Act As The Success Mantra For This Tour To India?

image-lrrlxj05Ben Stokes practicing in India (AP)

Perhaps as important as the subject concerning the rather unclear reason behind Virat Kohli’s absence in the first two tests is this particular subject.

Truth be told, this is as much a subject of key observation as is whether big names on either side in the series, including Rohit Sharma and Ben Stokes, will fire for their respective teams.

This is no ordinary question; it’s a question that could well set the tone of the series as well as its eventual fate.

Will Bazball Work In India?

The question is whether the England cricket team’s signature style of playing cricket, i.e., "Bazball,” will work for the visitors who are about to play live in the beating heart of the Indian subcontinent.

Not long after India’s pace ace Jasprit Bumrah hyped up the soon-to-begin contests with a candid confession by admitting that the Bazball still will play to his advantage, the focus of fans and cricket observers was on this very distinguished essence of England’s cricket.

To put it simply, Bazball, a team conceptualised by Baz McCullum and adapted by his pupil, i.e., members of the England national squad, is putting to practice a very common but result-oriented game of playing cricket.

They say- and we’ve heard for the longest time- that attack is the best form of defence.

That, to put it precisely, is Bazball, a philosophy that none other than Jimmy Anderson recently added will be the go-to mantra for his team to win their big frontier in India.

Surely, this exceptionally high-performant style of play, where you care little for maiden overs or technical virtuosity in batting, has come to England’s cause in the most recent times.

They knocked the socks off New Zealand in New Zealand. That’s not all; until recently, England smashed Pakistan in Pakistan and earlier played a fairly competitive brand of cricket by taking the Ashes series deep into its eventual phase.

But here’s the kicker, albeit from an Indian perspective. The earlier pitches were anything but in conditions that one finds in India.

How Did Bazball Work At Tough Conditions?

The Bazball yielded victory for England on bouncy tracks where turn isn’t essentially the bowler’s greatest strength or go-to ploy.

Where England are concerned at the moment, the Indians conditions mirror quite the opposite of where they played until recently and to a respectable degree of success.

Should India unfurl its spinners at both ends, sensing it to be a great opportunity to tie England's hands, the visitors could well be in trouble.

The ball comes nicely onto the bat here and often even stays low.

To cast one’s mind on what happened the last time around the English came calling in the sub-continent, it’s important to recast the mind on a string of low scoring team totals where, barring Joe Root, any batsman could execute the Bazball style of play. That’s circa 2021, when emphatic margins of victory for the hosts defined the general outcome of a Test.

image-lrrmeptpJames Anderson won't part of the 1st Test vs IND (AP Photos)

Remember the fourth Test at Ahmedabad that culminated in a win for India by a humongous margin of an inning and 25 runs?

On surfaces that were anything but placid for cricketers, India’s spin friendly tracks quite simply blunted the blade of the English to the extent that in the very same series, the then Joe Root-led side were blanked out comprehensively, scoring 112 and 81 in the 3rd contest of the series.

In front of an utterly dominant Ravichandran Ashwin show, India grounded England and put a stoppage to their Bazball style of attack. The runs weren’t coming, nor were the expansive strokes or boundary hitting spectacles. It was India all the way.

This time around too, both Jadeja and Ashwin are ready. But then so is Jasprit Bumrah. Can this trinity act like a trident and attack the heart of England’s Bazball, which, arguably speaking, will be led by Root and Stokes? 

We have exciting content on our hands. But at the same time, it must be said that if England completely back themselves to go for the kill, which to break down in cricketing lingo, will be to hunt down Indian bowlers, then so be it. They must play that way. Little else, as they say, makes sense other than playing to one’s strengths. Isn’t it?