Bazball in India? Brendon McCullum excited for England’s ‘huge challenge’ in Test series


England head coach Brendon McCullum said he is looking forward to heading to India for the much-anticipated 5-Test series in January-March 2024, stressing that playing Rohit Sharma’s men in their backyard will be a tough challenge. McCullum and captain Ben Stokes have changed the way England played their Test cricket, finding success with a lot of swagger – an approach that has been named Bazball.

England hit the reset button after their Ashes defeat in early 2022 as they helped raise a few eyebrows by getting Brendon McCullum as the head coach of the Test team. Ben Stokes took over from Joe Root and Rob Key came in as the Team Director.

McCullum was able to convince the England Test stars to play a fearless brand of cricket and take more risks than usual in Test cricket. The players are encouraged to express themselves, take risks, and maintain an attacking stance, whether batting or fielding. This approach has led to a remarkable upswing in England’s Test fortunes, with the team winning 11 out of 13 Tests under the new regime, without suffering any series defeats. England fought back from being 2-0 down in the Ashes series at home, learning from their mistakes and leveling the series.

England managed to beat India in a Test series in 2012 under Alastair Cook, but overseas teams, including Joe Root’s sides of the past, have struggled to even compete against the home side in spin-friendly conditions.

McCullum acknowledged the difficulty of beating India in India, but said there will be no change to their style of play.

“We have got a huge challenge against a very good Indian team in five tests in India. I am excited about it because you want to test yourself against the best side and I genuinely believe that India is the best in their own condition. It is going to be a good challenge for us. If we have success then fabulous, if we don’t then I know we will go down in the style that we want to go down.” McCullum said at the RCB Innovation Lab’s Leaders Meet India in Bengaluru.

The 5-Test series will get underway in Hyderabad on January 25 and the series finale will be played in Dharamsala from March 7.

McCullum talked up the impact of Bazball, saying that quite a few of the England players are improving as players by eliminating the fear of failure. The former New Zealand captain, who played the game with such an approach, elaborated on the much-talked-about term, coined in 2022.

“We are playing the game, because we love cricket and we want to try and be as good at cricket as we possibly can. During the time that you are in the chair, you want to make sure you enjoy it and you shouldn’t wait till the end of your career to do so. We are very lucky that we have had some immediate success but I don’t think it is the ceiling for us. I think we have seen some guys who have unlocked their potential in the last 18 months or so and that’s what the job is as a leader; to get the most out of the people that you’re in charge of,” he added.

Published By:

Akshay Ramesh

Published On:

Dec 4, 2023

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