Introducing Bazball, England’s innovative take on the traditional game of cricket. This approach goes beyond powerful hits and aggressive batting; it involves bold decision-making, which has been evident in recent months. A clear demonstration of this strategy occurred during the first Ashes Test series at Edgbaston Cricket Ground, where England captain Ben Stokes made a surprising move. With Joe Root still unbeaten on 118, Stokes declared the innings at 393 for eight. This decision drew anger from England cricket legends while Australia’s Ricky Ponting was delighted.
The opening match at Birmingham served as a true test for Bazball, which has contributed to England’s impressive record of seven wins in their last eight Tests at home under the leadership of Captain Stokes and Head Coach Brendon McCullum. Even though it was only the first day of the 2023 Ashes Test, England remained faithful to their approach. This led to a courageous decision to declare the innings in the final hour of the evening session, shortly after Root achieved his 30th Test century.
Former England captain Michael Vaughan and Kevin Pietersen were not pleased with Stokes’ call. They believed that having a few more runs on the board would have been beneficial, especially with an unbeaten Root at the crease.
Vaughan expressed his opinion on BBC Test Match Special, saying, “I wouldn’t have declared. You never know what might happen. England is attempting to send a message that no team has ever sent before. As a captain, I would have wanted more runs, particularly with Joe Root still playing. Even though England didn’t get the wicket, it created the essence of the Ashes — experienced players like Warner and Khawaja were running between the wickets like children.”
Pietersen added, “I don’t think this is Stokes’ typical captaincy style, with the changing field positions. It’s difficult to judge because we didn’t witness much action this evening. I covered a Test match against India last year, and the pitch improved for batting as the match progressed. Tomorrow could be a perfect day. That’s why I didn’t agree with the declaration. Only time will tell if it was the right decision. I was always told to aim for 400… reach 400, 450 in the first innings of a Test match. It’s a psychological milestone. Maybe I’m being too critical; we’ll see.”