England buying into ‘Bazball’ as they wrap up another Test win

The England team pose with the trophy after winning the series (John Walton/PA) (PA Wire)
The England team pose with the trophy after winning the series (John Walton/PA) (PA Wire)

England needed just 25 minutes to wrap up a 2-1 Test series victory over South Africa on the final morning.

Play on the penultimate evening of the truncated third Test was contentiously halted due to bad light with the hosts just 33 short of overhauling a 130-target and with all 10 wickets in hand.

Doors to the Kia Oval were thrown open free of charge for the deferred denouement and there was no surprise twist as England quickly claimed a nine-wicket win.

Alex Lees was out lbw for 39, handing South Africa fast bowler Kagiso Rabada a deserved wicket after seeing wicketkeeper Kyle Verreynne spill a regulation chance off an edge in his previous over.

Lees also nicked Marco Jansen just over third slip before his downfall in a streaky innings, although his contribution in a 108-run opening partnership with Zak Crawley broke the back of the chase.

Crawley ended his disappointing summer with a restorative 69 not out off just 57 balls, handsomely slamming Rabada through the vacant covers then doing likewise off Jansen for his 12th four which saw England home in their final assignment of the summer. Ollie Pope finished with a cameo unbeaten 11.

Touching tribute

This match will almost certainly be best remembered for the stirring scenes which followed the death of the Queen. After the opening two Tests were each wrapped up inside three days, the decider followed suit, albeit in far different circumstances. Rain washed out day one before day two was cancelled as a mark of respect following the news from Buckingham Palace. Moving tributes were then paid to Elizabeth II on a wicket-laden third day laced with poignancy, which included black armbands, a minute’s silence and an emotional rendition of God Save the King.

Bright beginning for ‘Bazball’

 (PA Wire)
(PA Wire)

Early evidence suggests England’s players are buying into ‘Bazball’, the aggressive attacking approach under new head coach Brendon McCullum. Monday’s win was a sixth from seven outings under the 40-year-old New Zealander – the first time England have been victorious in six Tests in a home summer since winning seven during a clean sweep in 2004. Defeat in the opener against South Africa was the only blot on the copybook after McCullum began his tenure by whitewashing his native country and then beating India.

Bairstow a big miss for the T20 World Cup

 (PA Wire)
(PA Wire)

Jonny Bairstow may have been forced to sit out the final match due to sustaining a serious leg injury in a “freak accident” on the golf course but that did not stop him subsequently being named 2022 LV= Insurance Test Player of the Summer. The 32-year-old Yorkshireman hit four fabulous hundreds and amassed 681 runs at an average of 75.6 across the past four months. Yet, having reportedly slipped while approaching a tee box, he is facing a prolonged spell on the sidelines and his absence is likely to be keenly felt by England in the upcoming Twenty20 World Cup in Australia.

Stat attack

View from the dressing room

I'll never forget walking down the steps out of the changing room on day three to complete silence within the ground. We didn't know that was going to happen. We're used to walking down with big cheering before the anthems. But walking down the silence was deafening. It was incredible. You could see obviously the upset but also the amount of respect everyone has for the Queen, her service to the country and all around the world as well. We take a huge amount of inspiration from what she did in her reign, to commit her life to England; we obviously do it nowhere near to the extent that she did for 70 years but we represent this country and we do it with a lot of pride and honour as well.

England captain Ben Stokes on the Queen

What’s next?

England have a break of just over 11 weeks before they return to Test action during December’s tour of Pakistan. The three-match series begins in Rawalpindi (December 1-5), followed by fixtures in Multan (December 9-13) and Karachi (December 17-21). In terms of white-ball action, England face seven Twenty20 fixtures in Pakistan (September 20-October 2) in preparation for the World Cup in Australia (October 12-November 7).