England cap revival year with Pakistan whitewash


The completion of England’s 3–0 series success over Pakistan on Tuesday was the latest chapter in a remarkable revival, made all the more extraordinary for red-ball results from the pre-‘buzzball’ era. It was striking enough in itself to effect the first home whitewash suffered by Pakistan in Test history, courtesy an eight-wicket win in Karachi on Tuesday. It gave England their ninth win in 10 matches at this level, which also included Test world champions New Zealand, India and South Africa, since captain Ben Stokes and coach Brendon McCullum took over in May.

When he joined forces, however, England had won just one of their previous 17 Tests.

So how to explain the surprising change?

The answer begins in April, when the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) appointed Rob Key, a former England batsman with a modest Test record, as its new director of cricket.

The 43-year-old, who was earlier a television pundit, has since then seen his judgment vindicated time and again.

As New Zealand captain, McCullum provided the blueprint for England’s resurgence in 50-over cricket, which culminated in their 2019 World Cup final victory.

Key backed him to have a similar impact on the Test team when he named him as Chris Silverwood’s permanent replacement as coach following England’s 4–0 shock defeat in Australia.

Star all-rounder Stokes, 31, not long before the mental health break, replaced close friend Joe Root as England captain, with the outstanding batsman leading a losing side under severe Covid restrictions.

‘Get ready to ride’

Many observers noted how the form of England all-rounders Ian Botham and Andrew Flintoff had dropped during his unsuccessful spell as Test captain.

Nevertheless, Key preferred his opinion to the weight of history, saying: “I believe in Brendan and Ben Stokes… The time has come for all of us to buckle up and get ready for the ride. “

And what a ride to date with Stokes and McCullum capitalizing on the feel-good mood created by the end of ‘bubble’ life.

In the new environment, players are encouraged to enjoy cricket and not fear failure.

England’s attacking approach, called ‘buzzball’ in honor of McCullum’s surname, although he dislikes the term, is based on aggressive run-scoring that gives bowlers time to take the 20 wickets needed to win a Test. .

McCullum has realized the progress in limited-overs run-scoring – led by white-ball coach Matthew Mott in England’s recent T20 World Cup triumph – can be applied to Test cricket.

That extended range of strokeplay combined with classical shot-making saw England become the first team to score 500 runs on the first day of a Test, when Zak Crawley, rising stars Harry Brook and Ollie Pope, as well as Ben Duckett, all made it. Century in Pakistan series opener in Rawalpindi.

England’s new attitude is also evident in Stokes’ willingness to risk losing the match in pursuit of victory.

In Rawalpindi, Stokes’ bold declaration, which left Pakistan needing 343 runs to win in four sessions, was rewarded with victory shortly before bad light threatened to end the match.

England’s willingness to defy their traditional orthodoxy was equally visible when 18-year-old leg-spinner Rehan Ahmed became the youngest Test player from any country to take a five-wicket haul in an innings during the Karachi final.

Stokes has proved himself an astute man-manager, reinvigorating experienced pacemen James Anderson and Stuart Broad, while giving left-arm spinner Jack Leach a much-needed confidence boost.

Has England changed Test cricket? Perhaps not, but former captain Michael Atherton, noting how the current England team’s approach had been met with skepticism at every turn, wrote in The Times on Tuesday that Stokes’ men had “done any England game” in Pakistan. by playing with more gusto and aggressive intent than the team”. sure, ever did”.

The stern test for some remains next year’s Ashes series at home to arch-rivals Australia.

Stokes admits that a win makes it easier for England to “enjoy” themselves and is doing his best to dispel doubters.

“The real test will be when things don’t go so well,” he said. “And it will be time to make that (joy) even more of a thing that we can get out there. But I hope we don’t get to that.”

(This story has not been edited by NDTV staff and has been auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

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