‘Bazball failed to beat best teams in the world,’ former cricketers react after England’s Test series loss to India

NEW DELHI: England’s maiden Test series defeat under the Bazball regime helmed by captain Ben Stokes and coach Brendon McCullum against India on Monday was received with mixed opinions by former cricketers and pundits.
After having their noses ahead for a good part of three days, England witnessed a tremendous rearguard from India in Ranchi, propelling them to a five-wicket win and a 17th consecutive home Test series win since 2013. Meanwhile, Stokes and Co., who started the series with a thrilling win in Hyderabad, were left to count on the positives on a tour they will consider to be another missed opportunity to trump India at home.
“If I look at this tour, I don’t feel like I can sit here and be unduly critical,” said former England batter Michael Atherton on the Sky Sports Podcast with Nasser Hussain.
“I don’t think anyone expected them to come and win here. In general, I feel they played some pretty good cricket. The cricket has been competitive. India know they’ve been in a scrap. But in the end they were not quite good enough. The residual regret over the opportunities missed and the fact India were missing big names like Kohli and Shami and Bumrah here.”
The series has been a revelation for India with a string of youngsters stepping up in the absence of key senior players. Wicketkeeper Dhruv Jurel, who made his Test debut in the third match in Rajkot, led the Indian fightback with a stoic 90 in the first-innings. He backed it up with a match-winning partnership with Shubman Gill in the chase.
“India, 17 series in a row they’ve won at home, that’s how difficult they are to beat in those conditions. But I sit here and see it as a missed opportunity in as much as there is no Virat Kohli, there is no Mohammed Shami, there is no Rishabh Pant, for most of the series there is no KL Rahul, Jasprit Bumrah has been rested, Jadeja injured, Ashwin has to leave for a day of Test match cricket. There were opportunities there.”
Meanwhile, Hussain touched upon on the lost phases of play for England in the fourth Test. “There is no shame in losing to this India side but obviously, like with any Test series and any Test match, you look at key areas where you let the game slip and for me, all of yesterday really.
“What could have been a 100-run lead ended up being 46 and then in your third innings you don’t know whether to stick or twist and I think England batted in that collapse 26 overs for that 37/5 which, for this side, to go just over one run an over shows they didn’t know whether to stick or twist yesterday.”
Meanwhile, English batting legend Geoffrey Boycott questioned the success of the Bazball formula, labelling winning as the more important element. England is currently eighth on the World Test Championship 2023-25 cycle standings, with only three wins in nine matches.
“Bazball has given Test cricket a shot in the arm and England deserve praise for that. At times, I love it. But I love winning more and England have failed to beat the best two teams in the world: Australia and now India. What should really hurt them is that they should have beaten both,” wrote Boycott in The Telegraph.
“The batting cost them winning the Ashes and it lost them the series against India. In this series they have had odd moments when someone has scored a good hundred. But they have been in isolation and there has been no consistency. Zak Crawley is the one England player averaging over 40. Six of the Indian players have averages higher than 43. I know they all have to buy into the Bazball mantra because that is all they talk about. To play with no fear is good, but at times England were reckless and too cocky about how they were going to smack everybody around. Getting out is part of the game but getting yourself out is silly,” Boycott added.
Meanwhile, English journalists have also needled into Jonny Bairstow’s poor run with the bat and stated that the keeper-batter’s spot could be under scrutiny. The 34-year-old only managed 170 runs in eight innings. “Bairstow’s best route to staying in the XI may be to snatch the wicketkeeper’s gloves off Ben Foakes again, but Foakes has had a fine series and Stokes was at pains to praise his efforts in his latest press conference,” wrote Simon Wilde in the Times UK.
The teams will head into a 10-day break before locking horns in the final Test in Dharamsala from March 7.

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