by Rex Clementine
This England team under Ben Stokes and Brendon McCullum are giving nightmares to teams and more importantly they are reinventing the manner in which Test cricket is being played. Since Stokes and McCullum took over, England have played 11 Tests and won ten of them. Whoever who are going to stop them need to think out of the box and more importantly will have to play out of their skins. Given what cricket teams are showcasing around the world at the moment, you can’t think off too many teams challenging England. They are changing the world order by every sense. And mind you some of their best customers aren’t even part of the team due to injuries.
Before Stokes and McCullum took over, England had an horrendous record having won just one of their last 17 Tests. Since then, it’s been all a revelation. Not just at home, away from home too they have played some breathtaking cricket. First they humbled Pakistan before Christmas and now in their second winter tour they made the Kiwis eat humble pie with a 267 run at the Bay Oval. It was their first Test win in New Zealand since 2008.
The best thing about England’s success is that they are playing a brand of cricket that is not something that you associate with them. Flamboyance used to be frowned upon in England as firmness was the mantra for success. But Stokes and McCullum have taken things to a new level.
Their batsmen are scoring at a frantic rate that a draw is almost out of the equation. The best thing about England’s strategy is that they are using proper Test match cricketers to score at high tempo. In the first innings of the first Test they scored at a rate of 5.5 runs an over. In response to England’s first innings total of 325 for nine declared, New Zealand responded with 306 runs and an equally better effort in the second essay could have given them hopes of a draw. But given the rate England went about scoring too much time had been left in the game and a draw was out of the equation.
Then onto England’s bowling. They are depending on a 40-year-old James Anderson and a 36-year-old Stuart Broad and how well they bowled to give England the series lead.
England’s success is not all about their aggressive batting. Crafty seam bowling by Anderson is bringing them rich dividends too. Want proof? Mr. Anderson is now the world’s top ranked bowler.