Monday, February 6, 2023

Why Ben Stokes’ Positive Approach to Test Cricket Is So Refreshing

England claimed one of their finest away Test match victories earlier this month, successfully taking 20 wickets on an exceptionally flat and lifeless wicket in Rawalpindi, defeating Pakistan by 74 runs with a matter of minutes to spare. This result heralds the new era of England captain, Ben Stokes, who took the bold decision to declare in his side’s second innings at 264-7, with a lead of only 342.

It would have been all too easy for England to bat deep into the fourth day in their second innings in Rawalpindi, but instead Stokes opted to declare early. In doing so, Pakistan had a shot at winning, with only 3.4 runs an over needed in four sessions. However, England also had sufficient time to bowl the Pakistanis out and take the win as the sun set on the late afternoon of Day 5. Prior to the 1st Test, Pakistan were undisputed favourites to win at 2.25 with Betway, with the England price drifting in the hours leading up to the game following a 24-hour virus that struck the England camp.

This operator covers all formats of one of the world’s oldest professional sports. Although the shorter formats get plenty of exposure with this online betting site, it has ample coverage of Test match series too; especially historic ones like the return of England to Pakistan for the first time in 17 years. With the second and third Tests in Multan and Karachi following quickly on from Rawalpindi, it’s likely that the pre-game odds will be a much tighter affair, particularly with the fitness of the England squad no longer in question.


Stokes and “Bazball” aiming to take the draw out of the equation

Stokes admitted in the post-match press conference that the result was “mind-blowing”, while former England Test skipper, Michael Atherton insisted that no other England captain would have been capable of engineering that result throughout the country’s rich cricketing history. By day three, the contest appeared to be heading in only one direction, with both teams batting superbly on a very flat and benign wicket.

Pakistan managed to get within 78 runs of England’s first innings total of 657, which tells you a lot about the lack of ‘danger’ in the batting surface. For it to take almost three days for 20 wickets to fall across the opening two innings, most captains would have accepted the game’s fate, taken the stalemate and moved on to the next match.

Time was not an issue thanks to England’s breakneck run-scoring

towfiqu barbhuiya Cv1IZqKJQzU unsplash Why Ben Stokes’ Positive Approach to Test Cricket Is So Refreshing
Photo by Towfiqu barbhuiya on Unsplash

However, the speed at which England scored in their first innings meant that they had time to build a third innings score to “dangle a carrot” in front of Pakistan for the fourth innings. Over the course of the entire Test match, England averaged 6.73 runs an over with the bat, which is an average most one-day international sides would be very proud of. In addition, four players managed to score centuries in the opening innings, which will give huge confidence to the likes of Zak Crawley and Harry Brooks.

For many long-time England cricket fans, it’s a shift in mindset that will take some time to get used to. This swashbuckling style that English cricket has embraced in the shorter forms of the game has now filtered its way into the Test arena. England’s new head coach, Brendon McCullum, has been integral to England’s change of approach. The New Zealander clearly has a strong rapport with Stokes and the pair’s desire to entertain the masses is clearly rubbing off on the rest of the squad.

England’s veteran swing bowler, Jimmy Anderson, insisted that Stokes was a captain that “players want to play for”. With an Ashes series firmly on the horizon next summer, the England Test team appears to be in good shape for a tilt at regaining the Ashes. Australia is another Test nation that have pioneered and found new ways to win big games and England are beginning to be talked about in the same breath.

A series win in Pakistan would certainly put Stokes’ England in good stead to welcome their arch rivals from ‘Down Under’.

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Rahul Roy
Rahul Roy
I am a computer guy by profession and a sports fanatic by choice.


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