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Ben Stokes irked with question over Bazball’s failure after series defeat against India: ‘What does it mean?’

England captain Ben Stokes endured his first series loss since taking over the reins of the Test team in 2022.

England captain Ben Stokes refuted claims of lacking ruthlessness in their approach against India, addressing their first Test series defeat in the ‘Bazball’ era. India’s triumph in the fourth Test, resulting in a five-wicket win and an unassailable 3-1 lead in the series, has led to significant concerns over England’s approach in Test cricket.

England’s captain Ben Stokes addresses a press conference at the end of their fourth Test cricket match against India at the Jharkhand State Cricket Association (JSCA) Stadium in Ranchi(AFP)

The side’s much-celebrated ‘Bazball’ strategy, hailed for its aggression since 2022, is now under intense scrutiny for its perceived rigidity and tactical concerns. The series defeat is likely to prompt an introspection on their strategic approach, sparking debates about the effectiveness of ‘Bazball’ in modern Test cricket.

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England are currently seventh in the World Test Championship points table with a percentage point of just 19, which has severely impacted their chances of recovering in time to put their contention for a final spot in 2025.

‘Ruthlessness? What is that?’: Stokes

Asked if England lacked ruthlessness against India, Stokes replied: “Ruthlessness? What is it? How does it show itself?

“Everyone goes into the game with their best intentions; when it doesn’t pay off, people say we’re not ruthless, when it does, they say we are,” Stokes said in the post-match media conference.

Stokes emphasised that the perception of ruthlessness can be subjective and often misunderstood. In the fourth Test of the series against England, the side was left in a spot of bother in the second innings, when a flurry of wicket forced the English team into a shell; the side was bowled out for just 145 in 53.5 overs.

“I don’t really understand it. That’s from my point of view; we try to do what we think is the best way to win a game. It can be a throwaway comment when people say we’re not ruthless enough. What does it mean?” he questioned.

Under Stokes’ leadership, succeeding Joe Root, England’s ‘Bazball’ approach yielded victories against formidable opponents like New Zealand, South Africa, and Pakistan. Notably, in the previous year’s Ashes series, England staged a comeback to salvage a 2-2 draw.

“Obviously we want to win every game we play, and win every series. This is the first we have lost, but we will be involved in plenty more series going forward,” Stokes said.

“It’s always disappointing being on the losing team. Looking back at when we had our chance to bat yesterday, cricket is always skill against skill.”


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