Bazball Leaves Captain Cummins Entertained
Australia completed a thrilling two-wicket victory at Edgbaston in a highly entertaining first Test against England.
The English summer officially begins when the England Cricket team walks out in pure whites. This time, however, with one goal in their mind – The Ashes. It has been 8 years since the English have brought home the trophy, playing on the English green. The two teams are split by only 2 points on the Test rankings; this can only mean that we are set for a great 6 weeks of entertainment.
New Zealand-born Benjamin Andrew Stokes walks off the pitch after winning the toss and electing to bat. Now an English cricketing icon, a heavy weight lies on his shoulder after taking the national captaincy from Joe Root just over a year ago. Moeen Ali makes a return to the lineup after 2 years, while Stuart Broad plays ahead of Mark Wood.
The two captains at the toss ahead of the first Ashes Test (via Ryan Pierse/Getty Images)
The English innings began as ‘Bazball’ appeared from ball number 1, with Zak Crawley striking the delivery of Pat Cummins through extra cover for a boundary. A real display of intent. The Australians knew what they were in for. They lost their first wicket as Ben Duckett edged one through to the wicketkeeper just 22 balls in, Josh Hazlewood taking his first. The show of intent continued from Crawley and Ollie Pope, keeping the runs ticking. However, Pope departed shortly before Crawley got to his fifty. Joe Root then kept it up with Crawley until the half-centurion also got a nick behind to the wicketkeeper. Harry Brook played some fantastic shots but was unlucky to have played the ball onto his wicket. The main backbone of the English innings was the 6th wicket. Batting master Root paired with Jonny Bairstow for a 121-run partnership, Bairstow then departing for a run-a-ball 78. Root got to his hundred during the 9th wicket partnership; after this, he opened his shoulders to send the ball to all corners of Edgbaston. Stokes now declared with England 7 shy of 400, half an hour remaining in Day 1. The Aussies, in return, were in no mood for any gifts, ending the day calmly at 14-0.
Highest Runs Per Over in a Test Team Innings (Where Team is Bowled Out)
|1||England||657||101||6.5||1||v Pakistan||01 December 2022|
|2||Australia||296||51||5.8||2||v South Africa||11 October 1902|
|3||New Zealand||370||65.4||5.63||1||v Australia||20 February 2016|
|4||England||281||51.4||5.43||1||v Pakistan||09 December 2022|
|5||England||360||67||5.37||2||v New Zealand||23 June 2022|
|6||England||166||31.4||5.24||4||v Australia||03 January 2014|
|7||New Zealand||441||85.5||5.13||1||v Sri Lanka||26 December 2014|
|8||England||407||79.2||5.13||1||v Australia||04 August 2005|
|9||Australia||550||107.2||5.12||1||v South Africa||22 November 2012|
|10||South Africa||569||111.5||5.08||3||v Australia||30 November 2012|
|11||West Indies||450||88.4||5.07||1||v England||22 July 1976|
|12||England||374||73.5||5.06||3||v New Zealand||16 February 2023|
|England||393||78||5.03||1||v Australia||16 June 2023|
England struck at 5.03 runs per over in the first innings, entertaining the Birmingham crowd with some fine shots. Had they been bowled out, the run rate would have been the 13th highest-ever for a completed innings. It must be noted that England already possess 6 of the 12 highest run rates in completed Test innings, 4 of which came within the last 2 years. This goes to show the revolutionary ideas that Brendon McCullum is bringing to England cricket, a huge change in approach, which has almost refreshed all that Test cricket stood for. The Stokes side also has 7 of the top 10 highest 1st/2nd-innings Test run rates for England, showing how strongly this team differs from other England sides of yesteryear.
Highest RPO for England in Test Innings (1st or 2nd inns)
|4||325/9d||58.2||5.57||1||v New Zealand||16-Feb-23|
|6||360||67||5.37||2||v New Zealand||23-Jun-22|
|9||629/6d||125.5||4.99||1||v South Africa||02-Jan-16|
|10||435/8d||87.1||4.99||1||v New Zealand||24-Feb-23|
Australia went on to score 386 in their first innings, courtesy of Usman Khawaja, who hit a glorious 141 runs at a strike rate of 44. Their innings was nothing like the Bazball the crowd saw earlier. England now led by 7 runs, coming back out to get bowled out for 273, giving the Aussies four sessions to chase 281 in the final innings. Usman Khawaja struck another half-century for his country, this time at a 33 strike rate, and a very patient knock from Captain Cummins led his nation over the line with 2 wickets to spare.
Pat Cummins celebrates after hitting the winning runs (via Visionhaus/Getty Images)
In the midst of the competitive battle between ball and bat, Day 3 saw some controversy; Ollie Robinson celebrated getting Usman Khawaja out with extra joy. A release of long-built-up frustration, perhaps? Words were said by Ollie Robinson, which he later defended, saying, ‘I don’t really care how it is perceived.’ His understanding of the situation seemed to portray a cocky attitude, reminiscent of the Ashes of the early 2000s – he gave a comparison to Ricky Ponting’s antics years ago.
The questions that come to mind include, does this arrogant behavior stem from the mentality that is built from the attacking front-foot style of cricket that the team is encouraged to play, or is this the naivety of the young individuals? Perhaps an argument for the sport becoming softer could be made as well. Opinions on the limits of sledging in the game will always be open for discussion. However, many would think that giving aggressive verbals while the batsman makes the walk back to the pavilion is in bad taste and shouldn’t be encouraged, especially not after a batsman leaves with another century to his name.
Usman Khawaja with the Player of the Match medal for the first Ashes Test (via Ryan Pierse/Getty Images)
Usman Khawaja let his bat talk in the 4th innings, and that was enough of a contribution for him to earn the Man of the Match award. The brand of cricket that England play is very interesting, but Bazball didn’t get them the win in the first Test. Maybe if England had played a slightly more reserved type of cricket by not declaring so early, we might have seen them get another 30-50 runs in the first innings with Joe Root still at the crease, hypothetically speaking. Although Bazball has generally worked well for them so far, the debate is whether they should have shown Australia a bit more respect and maybe not declared that early on in the first innings. Hopefully, for the English, a lesson will have been learned to not underestimate Australia and give the World Test Championship holders a lot more sporting respect.
The Australians take the lead, setting up an interesting 4 Test matches to come.
The opinions expressed solely belong to the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views of Grassroots Cricket.