This is a real story of the transformation of the English Test Cricket team which is so remarkable that it defies all conventional wisdom. Enter the world of “Bazball” – a revolution in Test Cricket that shattered expectations and redefined what was once deemed near impossible.
Test Cricket is the oldest form of the game where two teams play the game over 5 days. Each team get to bat and bowl twice and the team which scores the maximum runs and stops the other by taking their 20 wickets win the game. Even though Test Cricket is considered the pinnacle of the format, the advent of more adventurous forms of the game – One-Day cricket (played over a day) and T20 cricket (played for around 3 hours), pushed it down the popularity chart for spectators. Today, only a few rich countries like India, England and Australia can afford to play “boring” Test Cricket.
The Struggle before the Bazball:
While Test Cricket was losing popularity on one end, England Cricket, considered the custodian of Test cricket, had a team struggling with apathy. By the summer of 2022, the team found themselves in a downward spiral of defeats with 1 win from 17 matches. The final blow came with a humbling loss to the not-so-strong West Indies team, making a change of leadership inevitable.
Under the leadership of captain Joe Root and coach Chris Silverwood, the team lacked direction and belief. Despite their talent, they struggled to find consistency and fell short of the lofty standards expected of them. While the coach was sacked immediately, Captain Joe Root resigned soon after.
The Emergence of Bazball:
After an initial search for coaches, Director of Cricket for England, Rob Key appointed Brendon “Baz” McCullum as the coach and Ben Stokes stepped onto the scene as the Captain. Armed with a radical vision to revolutionise Test cricket, Brendon brought with him a new philosophy termed by the press as the “Bazball” which had Captain Stokes’s full backing. They needed something new and the Bazball brought that fundamental shift in perspective, a seismic change in the mindset of the same talented players who were faltering up until then.
Bazball made cricketers think of themselves as rockstar entertainers who are gifted with the talent to entertain the world. This enabled each player to play with an insane amount of courage and freedom even in difficult circumstances. The players’ loyalty to this approach became so strong that they started playing outrageous high-risk shots like reverse sweeps and scoops with outstanding consistency puzzling the opposition. Some players went further by never changing their high-risk game no matter the result, which made the English players the talk of the town, regardless of whether they won or lost.
The Triumph of BazBall:
It has been less than 2 years since the start of this revolution and yet the current team has racked up Unforgettable Victories During this remarkable period, England delivered a series of unforgettable victories that epitomised the spirit of Bazball:
The Record-Breaking Run Chases: England made history by chasing down daunting targets of 277, 299, and 378 runs against formidable opponents. With their aggressive batting and unwavering belief, they proved that no total was beyond their reach, setting new benchmarks and redefining the word “Impossible” in test cricket.
The Rawalpindi Thriller in 2022: In a bold declaration against Pakistan, England took multiple calculated risks that paid off handsomely, securing a thrilling victory on the most docile of surfaces just minutes before the close of the play. Despite the odds stacked against them, they remained true to their Bazball philosophy helping them secure an unlikely win for the ages.
The Ashes Showdown in 2023: In a dramatic series against world champions Australia, England battled to a 2–2 draw, defying all odds and showcasing their newfound resilience and determination.
Current Test Series in India 2024: The English team’s current tour of India has showcased the impact of Bazball, with a thrilling victory in the first test and a bold chase in the second despite losing the match. Their fearless approach has made the Indian team fight for every run and wicket and has left fans on both sides eagerly anticipating the remaining matches.
Key Takeaways from Bazball:
Brendon McCullum played 101 test matches and many as a captain but he did not create a revolution like BazBall in New Zealand cricket. He had never coached a test-playing team before and yet he was able to stir up a transformation teaming up with Ben Stokes. How did he do that?
In this Impossible Newsletter, we constantly explore the boundaries of what is possible to us as individuals and as teams so that we can break our invisible glass ceilings by going for the impossible. All we need is just one inspiring perspective which can bring in a transformation like how Brendon could bring to English Cricket which is shaping Test Cricket today. If we are to achieve an impossible goal in the next 3-6 months, here are 3 takeaways from this story:
Back Yourself: Like the English players, we should trust in our abilities to win over any challenge that is in front of us. Like the English team, we should show clear and strong intent in everything we do, even in the face of uncertainty. This gives us the best chance to succeed.
Set Crazy Goals: When going for high-stakes goals there will always be fear at the back of the mind. However, when we go for impossible goals we already know that failure is the default result. This knowledge could give us the freedom to give our best not worrying about the result.
Don’t Accept the Rules: Until then Bazball test cricket was only played one way and the world had accepted it and now, every team is being challenged to think over it. Similarly, every day gives us an opportunity to refuse to accept limitations imposed by tradition or convention and challenge the status quo. We can be the rockstars who dare to rewrite the rules and forge new paths to success.
There you have the Impossible Story for the week. What thought is running in your mind right now about this story? Send me an email about it to [email protected]. If you want to read my next story which I am working on right now, subscribe to the newsletter by sharing your name and email below. If you are already part of it, share this link with a friend or on facebook or linkedin for me. More we have in this community thinking and breaking our big impossible goals, better it is.