Bazzball Cricket style: The development of the fantastic game of cricket is credited to the “classical knack for gentlemanly sportsmanship” that found expression in the form of bat-and-ball. The English game is said to be of mediaeval origin, as the first mention of the sport dates back to January 1597 in Guildford. The game was cherished with “elite imprints of imperialism” till the mid-twentieth century. Evidently, the sport revolutionised and got mass appeal once it became famous in the Indian sub-continent with the advent of the 60-over one-day format.
Despite the archaic form of the game, the test match, which is played over a period of five days, is still believed to be the most challenging format. In the early days of the contemporary phase, the game was governed by the notion of ‘respecting the good balls and smacking the loose ones.’ Then came an era, the foundations of which were laid by the legendary Vivian Richards, where merciless hitting was rationalized and the game was revolutionised with an aggressive mindset.
Sehwag: The Acme of Aggressive Batting
The pinnacle of aggressive batting, however, owes it to the modern-day great, Virender Sehwag, who took the game to another level. Sehwag has been a gifted talent with ‘the best hand-eye coordination,’ coupled with the mindset to ‘go after every ball.’ He introduced the game to a new phenomenon whereby he played with the same aggressive intent irrespective of the opponent, pitch condition, game situation, and even the format of the game.
To top it all, the magnificent batsman had a chillingly cold attitude on his face, with whistles lighting up his lips while he lambasted the bowlers. He had an ultimate knack for smacking the good balls out of the park and was considered to be the most destructive and fierce batsman, even in tough conditions.
The ‘Nawab of Najafgarh’ holds the accolade of scoring the fastest triple century in Test cricket, along with a place in the “elite club of players” who went past the triple century more than once. The ‘Sultan of Multan’ also scored the fastest double hundred in ODIs when he went past the “God of Cricket” in his blasting knock of 209 in 2011.
Moreover, Virender Sehwag was a one-of-a-kind player who played with an aggressive intent from the first ball, even in Test cricket. Surprisingly, his consistency with the bat despite his risk-taking abilities was fairly over the sky, and no other player can be accredited with such an attribute. Owing to which the cricketer is believed to be the ‘founding father’ of the present day ‘Bazzball cricket’.
Consequently, the cricketer’s foremost contribution to the game can be described as his ‘fearless and pay no mind attitude,’ which has been adopted by numerous contemporary cricketers ever since the player graced the cricket field.
Modern-day cricket: from Sehwag-style to Bazzball
Amidst the shadow of the legendary Virender Sehwag, the aggressive attitude on the field was encapsulated by another great player from New Zealand. The former Kiwi captain, Brendon McCullum, who has the accolade of scoring the first century in the history of the Indian Premier League, can be said to be the “true follower” of Sehwag-style cricket. McCullum, who began his career as a middle-order batsman, just like Sehwag, adopted his temperament of aggression and thereafter became one of the most destructive openers in the cricket arena.
Evidently, McCullum has fit into the shoes of Sehwag; however, the “Kiwi Knightrider” developed a style of his own and took the “aggressive intent” to another level. Just like Sehwag, who blasted his way through the opponents in India’s 2011 World Cup campaign, McCullum replicated the same for his country in the 2015 World Cup. However, after retirement, the player did not stop and came up with a more holistic approach to aggressive cricket.
Ever since Brendon McCullum became the head coach of the English Test squad, he devised a technique of providing free hands to the batsmen so as to capitalise on the scoring opportunities and thereby, following the same aggressive intent while fielding.
The aggressive intent while fielding accounts for setting an attacking field and capitalising on the wicket-taking opportunities by luring the opponents to go after their bowling. The strategy is credited to McCullum, since his nickname is Bazz, and the brand of cricket is labelled after him as “Bazzball.”
“Bazzball,” the newfound vision of Bazz
The definition of the word is comparable to Brendon McCullum’s career in cricket, which he fortified around fearlessness. On similar lines, “Bazzball” is the strategy doctored by McCullum for the English Test team that has skyrocketed their success in the longest format of the game.
The present English team is attributed with the acronym “aggression,” whereby the players are instructed to bat with an extreme sense of optimism and a vision of victory. The recent illustration of the strategy can be witnessed in the game, where England astonished India with their highest successful run chase in Test history as they surged past the target of 378 runs to secure a rousing seven-wicket victory. Soon after this victory of England in the Edgbaston Test, the word “bazzball” was one of the top trends on Twitter.
English bazzball, a replica of Sehwag-style
Virender Sehwag was alone in the Indian team in his era to go blistering after bowling from the word “go, but the “Sehwag-style” of batting seems to have found a team to incorporate his fashion. The intent that Sehwag propagated throughout his career has been integrated into contemporary English cricket culture. English captain Ben Stokes and head coach Brendon McCullum have explicitly voiced their game plan with the idea of “batting to entertain and fielding to win in all situations.”
The English cricketing culture has now manifested the word “intent” in their game. The approach has successfully earned the English team great laurels in ICC events, including the ODI and T20 World Cups in recent years.
However, their new approach to red-ball cricket is redefining the future of the format and getting the better of most opponents, as it did in the recently concluded England-Pakistan Test series. Interestingly, the nation that gave the world the sport is rejuvenating the lost glory of archaic Test cricket.
Furthermore, it is fascinating to see the strategy being incorporated into the game plans of other countries. Moreover, the induction of players like Suryakumar Yadav and Ishan Kishan into the Indian Test side in the near future will make it an interesting must-watch for every cricket fan. Evidently, it would provide the audience with an opportunity to witness the battle between the flag bearers of Sehwag-style cricket as opposed to the Bazzball culture.
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