The unflinching dedication of England’s captain Ben Stokes and coach Brendan McCullum to playing aggressive cricket without fear was once again validated on Thursday as the hosts regained control of the fourth Ashes test against Australia.
Because just one team in the history of the Ashes between the sport’s two oldest foes has ever turned around a 2-0 disadvantage to win a five-test series, home fans had been becoming more uneasy after their team’s close defeats in the first two matches.
In front of an enthusiastic capacity crowd of 22,500 on the second day of the match, England responded forcefully by dismissing Australia for 317 in their first innings. England scored 178 runs in the second session at 7.12 runs an over, with opener Zak Crawley reaching 189, and ended the day with a lead of 67 and six wickets in hand.
Since last year, when the New Zealand-born combo of Stokes and McCullum took over for England, the team had won 11 out of 13 tests leading up to the Ashes. Prior to that, England had only won one of their previous 17 tests when Joe Root was the captain.
An aggressive type of cricket played by England led to victories against New Zealand, South Africa, India, and Pakistan, as well as Ireland. This style of play has baffled their opponents and thrilled England’s fans.
McCullum had already turned around New Zealand’s fortunes after taking over as national captain. He led his team to a World Cup 50 overs final for the first time in 2015, and then he led his team to a drawn series in England, during which he and his team’s approach were praised by the British sports writers. Prior to accepting the England job, McCullum had already transformed New Zealand’s fortunes.
His approach to leadership and coaching is reflective of his batting on the international stage, where he combined quick reflexes, compact strength, and astonishing bat speed to help launch the Indian Premier League with 158 in his first match and then took him to the fastest century in the history of test matches in his final game. His final game century was also the fastest century scored in a test match.
He and Stokes have consistently challenged their squad to play aggressive cricket in all weather and circumstances without fearing failure. Crawley, who scored at a rate quicker than a run per ball in his huge innings, has backed this strategy by scoring at a rate faster than a run per ball.
“When those bowlers come on, it’s important to put them under pressure and rest for as short (a time) as possible,” he added. “When I say “resting for as short (a period) as possible,” I mean as little as possible.” “It is preferable to put pressure on bowlers and get them before they get me.
You are free to play the game in whichever manner you see fit. The majority of males will volunteer to do it.”