England revival is down to more than just ‘Bazball’, insists Brendon McCullum

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Brendon McCullum is nicknamed ‘Baz’ (Mike Egerton/PA) (PA Wire)
Brendon McCullum is nicknamed ‘Baz’ (Mike Egerton/PA) (PA Wire)

Brendon McCullum has referred to ‘Bazball’, the playful term coined in homage to England’s new Test head coach, as “silly”.

McCullum and captain Ben Stokes took charge of a misfiring Test side and have transformed their fortunes, with a bolder approach steering England to three wins against New Zealand and one over India.

On each occasion, England have overhauled 275-plus targets in the fourth innings with relative ease, while they chased down a record 378 with seven wickets to spare against India earlier this week.

While positivity has been a central theme in the embryonic stages of the era of McCullum, nicknamed Baz, the former New Zealand skipper insisted there are deeper levels of pragmatism involved.

“That’s why I don’t really like that silly term that people are throwing out there,” McCullum said on SEN Radio.

“Because there’s actually quite a bit of thought that goes into how the guys manufacture their performances and when they put pressure on bowlers and which bowlers they put pressure on.

“There’s also times where they’ve absorbed pressure beautifully as well.”

Former Australia captain Steve Smith this week questioned whether England’s dynamism is sustainable and was overheard by reporters shouting ‘Bazball’ in net practice ahead of a Test against Sri Lanka.

While McCullum has been overjoyed at how the early part of his reign has unfolded, he knows stiff tests await, with South Africa touring later this summer while Australia will be in England to contest the next Ashes series in 12 months’ time.

“I certainly wouldn’t say that we’ve changed the face (of Test cricket),” McCullum added.

“All we try and do is play a brand of cricket which gives the guys the greatest amount of satisfaction and gives them the best opportunity. We’ve also got an obligation to entertain.

“It’s been a tremendous month (but) we know that there’s big challenges to come, one of which will be the Aussie boys, but we’ve just got to keep doing what we’re doing.

“Australia is a different kind of challenge because of the history of the Ashes and the rivalry which exists there.

“I’m sure that our guys will try and still maintain a really positive approach. I think the real key is not just the crash and burn if we look at the approach of how the guys have done it.”

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