Former England captains tear into 'Bazball or bust' approach

The attacking blueprint laid out by skipper Stokes and head coach Brendon 'Baz' McCullum comes under scrutiny after the heavy loss in Rajkot

Published : 19 Feb 2024, 06:15 AM
Updated : 19 Feb 2024, 06:15 AM

Former England captains aimed both barrels at the team's high-wire 'Bazball' approach in the wake of their thrashing by India in the third Test on Sunday and called for Ben Stokes' side to temper their aggressive strategy to avoid further humiliation.

England lost by 434 runs in Rajkot to go 2-1 down in the five-match series, with the heavy defeat prompting questions about the attacking blueprint laid out for the side by skipper Stokes and head coach Brendon 'Baz' McCullum.

"This England team are hell bent on doing things their way, and 'saving Test cricket'. They are giving Test cricket a shot in the arm because they are so exciting," Michael Vaughan wrote in Britain's Daily Telegraph.

"But ultimately they have to be better than that now. They didn't win in New Zealand, they didn't win the Ashes, and if they carry on like this, they are going to lose in India. As a team, you are judged on series victories."

Michael Atherton said opener Ben Duckett's "the more the better" comments after the third day regarding a realistic target England could chase down were fanciful.

"One can admire the positivity and playfulness of Ben Duckett and this England team — such were his comments on the third evening — while also questioning their occasional self-delusion," Atherton wrote in the Times.

"Careful husbandry of resources is not the Bazball way. They have been profligate in the extreme in this match, wasting a golden opportunity to build on Duckett's brilliant second-day hundred and to achieve parity or more on first innings.

"They were forced to take some bitter medicine as a consequence on a stifling and totally demoralising fourth day in Rajkot."

Writing in his column for the Daily Mail, Nasser Hussain said England must learn from their mistakes.

"If England don't consider tweaks, Bazball just becomes a cult that can't be questioned," he added. "I am not asking them to alter their mantra, just to review the last couple of matches and ask themselves: 'how can we improve?'"

In a post on X, formerly Twitter, English umpire Richard Kettleborough said: "R.I.P Bazball. England has been humiliated."