Ben Stokes has been England’s captain for 14 Tests so far, and the team has scored 4.65 runs per over while he has been in charge. To put this into perspective, the next best score rate for a team under a captain who has led in at least three Tests is 3.66, which Australia did under Steve Waugh in 57 matches between 1999 and 2004.
So far, Stokes has been captain for home games against West Indies, New Zealand, South Africa, India, and Ireland. He has also been captain for away games against Pakistan and New Zealand for England. The cheerful way England bats under Stokes and McCullum, which is known as “Bazball,” has gotten a lot of praise from the cricket community. Along with making the game more fun, it has also helped speed up games that might have ended in boring draws without it. The series in Pakistan is the best example of this.
But other than a few games, England’s batters haven’t been tested much because the conditions and quality of the other team’s bowling have, most of the time, helped them. The method could be put to the test, though, when they face Pat Cummins and company in The Ashes. No matter how good Australia’s fast bowling attack is, England’s strategy will not change, said England’s captain Stokes.
Stokes said before the first Ashes game, “I think what we’ve done over the last year is show how we want to play. We found a way to get the best out of the team and the individuals.” We get asked a lot if we will keep playing this way against this or that team. We have made it clear that this is how England plays cricket against any team, because it has worked most of the time. Even though it’s against Australia, I don’t think there’s any question about how we’re going to play cricket.
Stokes said, “We’ve found a style and way to play cricket that has been very successful, and we’re going to try to stick to that no matter who we’re playing.” “Conditions can limit how you can do that, but we’ll always try to adjust to them and keep that good attitude, going out and having as much fun as we can. We always try to put pressure back on the other side, no matter who they are. Not facing the man but the ball, or the other way around.”
England’s style of cricket has been the main topic of conversation leading up to the Ashes, but the Australian team has tried to brush it off by saying that England’s strategy might not work against their bowling attack.
“I think they need to feel good about what they’re going to say,” said Stokes. “But, as I said, as a playing group, we’re used to being asked that question. “Can you do it against South Africa? Can we do it against Pakistan in Pakistan? Will we be able to do it against Australia?”
“So I guess every team is going to be asked by their side about how they’re playing, and I don’t see anything wrong with the Australians’ comments or our answers.”
The aggressive plan works so well because Stokes and McCullum have been able to give their players a lot of confidence. In turn, the players have given great results, which has helped England’s Test team turn things around in recent years.
“I’ve always felt like I got along well with the guys in this locker room. As captain, I think one of the most important things was being able to keep the same level of trust, even though I’m now making big choices. And just telling the guys in the locker room that they are great players and making them believe in themselves a lot more than they probably did before.
“So that was the most important thing I wanted to try to do: keep the trust in the relationship we had before and make them think they were better than they thought. “I hope I have done that.”