Ex-England batter Mark Ramprakash slams ‘Bazball’ ahead of England vs India fourth Test

Ex-England batter Mark Ramprakash slams ‘Bazball’ ahead of England vs India fourth Test

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As England prepares to do all it can to erase the memory of one of the most humiliating defeats in its history, the concept of “Bazball” has never been under a sharper microscope.

This English side, led by coach Brendon “Baz” McCullum and skipper Ben Stokes, is coming off that 434-run loss to India in the second Test in Rajkot.

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It was India’s biggest victory by runs ever over its 577-Test history dating back to 1932 and will be foremost in everyone’s minds when the two sides walk out onto the JSCA International Stadium in Ranchi on Friday for the fourth Test.

The hosts now lead the five-Test series 2-1 and the manner of that victory in Rajkot has put a white-hot glare on the approach of the England side.

Words like “overhyped”, “smug” and even “bulls**t” are now being directed both at the on-field display and the off-field comments emanating from the England camp.

Along with Joe Root’s attempted ramp shot and England’s dismal collapses in both innings, perhaps most galling was England batter Ben Duckett’s attempts to claim “Bazball” was the inspiration for Yashasvi Jaiswal’s outstanding double ton.

We hope you don’t have a weak stomach as you read the following comment.

“When you see players from the opposition playing like that, it almost feels like we should take some credit that they’re playing differently than how other people play Test cricket,” Duckett said, somehow keeping a straight face.

Sounds a little bit like an attempt to claim a “moral victory”, but we won’t go over too much old ground here.

McCullum was also asked about the potential of a shift in approach and made it very clear that won’t be happening.

“That’s not a conversation we’ve ever had,” he said after the third Test.

“I wasn’t against the method that they took, that we went out there with. It obviously didn’t work on this occasion and we’re going to cop that sweet, but it might work next time.”

So basically, steady as she goes, so long as “steady” means trying to smash every ball to the boundary, even on a turning Indian wicket.

A number of former players jumped on Duckett’s assertion in particular, with former Australian captain Michael Clarke reminding all of swashbuckling players like Matthew Hayden and Ricky Ponting who came well before this edition of England.

And now one of England’s own, 52-Test veteran Mark Ramprakash, has voiced his own issues with “Bazball” in no uncertain terms.

He did it in a very English way, of course, initially lavishing praise on Stokes et al, before letting us all know what he really thinks.

“I don’t want to minimise Stokes’s achievements,” Ramprakash wrote in part in a column in The Guardian.

“As captain he inherited a group that were playing poorly and losing. He has taken the pressure off them, galvanised them and given them a method they are happy to use.

“But I am left thinking, is that what success is? Is it success for a team to entertain the public whether they win, lose or draw?

“Or is success getting the job done: winning matches, winning series, competing for the World Test Championship?”

It’s clearly not the latter.

In the 2021-23 edition of the World Test Championship, the first under McCullum, England finished fourth, winning just 10 of its 22 matches.

It’s off to an even worse start in the current competition, with England sitting eighth of the nine teams with three wins from eight Tests.

The defending champions also crashed out of last year’s ODI World Cup in the group stage, finishing below Afghanistan in seventh.

Ramprakash isn’t giving up altogether, stating his belief Stokes has “accomplished half a mission”.

He then compared their media comments to legendary boxer Muhammad Ali, with one key difference.

“Sometimes their press conferences are like listening to Muhammad Ali trash‑talking,” he wrote.

“Like Ben Duckett saying ‘they can have as many as they want and we’ll go and get them’.

“Ali was a brilliant entertainer but he was known as the Greatest and, as good as his first‑innings century was, Duckett is not.”

No arguments here.

Ramprakash goes on to question the method behind Root’s reverse-attempting dismissal and indeed the very breed of cricketers England is trying to develop.

“Sometimes I wonder if there is something fundamentally unserious about the cricketers we are producing,” he wrote.

“Many county academies are pushing power hitting. They want young players to have a strike rate of more than 100 even when the pitch and match situation are not necessarily conducive to that.

“Young players who are yet to hone their skills are being told not to worry, to have fun, to go for it. Where are the Test run-scorers of tomorrow and how are they being developed?”

Stokes brought up his 100th Test milestone at Rajkot, a result and occasion he surely won’t want to remember for too long.

Ramprakash perhaps kept his best serve for last, blatantly stating it was high time Stokes and this England team focuses on winning over entertainment.

“They have played a lot of fun cricket, but sometimes they need to play smart cricket – the kind at which Stokes on his best days has shown he is so gifted,” he wrote.

“It will take all of his inspirational leadership to keep this group together and convince them to look at the two remaining matches as real opportunities.

“He has already had a fabulous career and it is a remarkable achievement to play 100 Tests and to create such a fun side.

“As he starts on his second century, he needs to focus on creating a winning one.”

Cop that.

But sadly, judging by all the comments coming from inside the England camp, it won’t make any difference. “Bazball” is here to stay – win, lose, or most likely lose.

Originally published as Former England batter Mark Ramprakash the latest to slam ‘Bazball’

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