Euro 2020 Special

England Break Test Records Against Pakistan

The style of test cricket that has become known as “Bazball” made its debut in Pakistan on the first day of their first test against England in Rawalpindi. And it was the host nation which was on the wrong end of it, as England set a bunch of new records in the course of it.

Already, Pakistan hopes of getting the win that would keep alive their hopes of reaching the World Test Championship at the Oval next June would appear to be in tatters, and saving the game may now, already, be the height of their ambitions.


England team sickness

The England performance was all the more remarkable, given the sickness that had raged through the travelling party on the eve of the match. A number of players missed training and were confined to bed after picking up a mystery bug and, at one stage, there were concerns that the start of the match may have to be put back by a day, a potential disappointment for the crowd who were looking forward to seeing England in test action after a 17 year absence.

It was only on the morning of the match itself that the decision was taken to go ahead as planned.


Winning the toss

However, having been cleared to play, England won the toss and chose to bat first. Prior to the match, coach Brendon McCullum had said that his team would continue to attack and play entertaining cricket and they were prepared to lose a few matches rather than compromise on those principles.

The groundsmen in Rawalpindi may have inadvertently played into England’s hands by preparing a pitch that favoured batting, but, even though the conditions were favourable, they still had to be exploited.


Keeping their promise

His team were true to their word and attacked the Pakistan bowling almost from the first ball.

Zak Crawley set the tone, making the fastest test century by an England player, before he was eventually out for 122 off 86 balls.

He shared an opening stand of 233 with Ben Duckett, making his first test appearance in six years, who made his own century, before he was the first man dismissed for 107.

The break-up of their partnership brought no respite for the Pakistan bowlers, however. Ollie Pope came in and he would go on to become England’s third centurion of the day, before he was dismissed for 208.

Joe Root has been one of England’s most consistent test performers in recent years, but he was the one man to miss out, comparatively, on the run fest, out for just 23.

There was no respite for the home team. Harry Brook, playing in his second test, made his debut century at this level; and just missed out on scoring the fastest ever century by an England player. Brook hit six fours off one over bowled by Saud Shakeel.

He was 101 not out at the stumps, whilst, ominously for the home side, his captain Ben Stokes was undefeated on 34 at the other end, scored off just 15 balls.


Records tumble

By the close of play, England were 506/4, setting a new record for the runs scored on the first day of a test match. That was scored off just 75 overs, at more than a run a ball, which is the fastest time it has taken any team to reach 500 in a test match.

Statistics later recorded that England had attacked 64% of the balls they faced during the day. Since this metric was first measured back in 2006, which was the highest attacking shot percentage of any team in test cricket.

It also compares favourably with England’s statistics in ODI and T20I cricket – 49% of balls attacked in ODIs and 65% in T20Is.

It was also the first time in the history of test cricket that one team had contained four individual centurions, and it equalled the previous England records for hundreds in one innings.


Does “Bazball” work?

This was the first time that England had played an overseas test since the McCullum-Stokes partnership signalled a new era for England in test cricket, and there had been plenty of questions beforehand how the approach would survive the transition into overseas conditions.

Although the sample size is still very small, the evidence suggests that it will flourish just fine overseas.

It may be setting a new blueprint for how test cricket should be played.




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