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Bazball is not always going to be rosy: Brendon McCullum | Cricket News

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আগস্ট ২২, ২০২৩ ১০:৩৫ পূর্বাহ্ণ


MUMBAI: Few batsmen terrorized the bowlers like Brendon McCullum did. The best part about this Kiwi is that he is still going after the rival bowlers, thanks to his Bazball theory!
Besides his entertaining batting, ‘Baz’ is someone who will always be remembered as someone who has made the transition from being a great player to a successful coach -as is reflected in the amount of victories England have notched up since his appointment as the Test team’s head coach.
In an exclusive interview with TOI on the sidelines of the CEAT Cricket Rating awards here on Monday, McCullum spoke on several topics -ranging from England’s chances in the Test series in India next year to of course, the 2023 ODI World Cup.
Excerpts…
How excited are you about England’s five-Test tour to India next year? Will England look to stick to ‘Bazball,’ or will they change their approach? The wickets on offer could be vicious turners…
First of all, it will be a great, traditional tour of India. I think some of the venues we’re going to are a bit different to maybe what we’ve seen on our previous tours. So, it’s going to be a really exciting opportunity for our team on the back of what has been quite incredible, sort of 15-16 months (in the England job), and a really fun Ashes series to be a part of. The term ‘Bazball,’ we don’t like to call it that at all..That’s a media term, it’s not how we refer to things. It’s simply about trying to give the guys as much freedom to allow their talent to come out as much as we possibly can. It’s about making a good decision in pressure environments and trying to enjoy the cricket that they are playing. There’s going to be a huge test here in India, with the conditions, against a very good India side as well. We will be challenged a lot, no doubt, by spin. But that’s what you want as well as a player. You want to play against the best in their own conditions and see where you measure up.
Did you imagine that you will enjoy so much success as the England Test coach?
I’m always an optimist. You hope that things work out well. International cricket is hard, right? There are very good players operating amongst many different nations. Sometimes, you play well and not necessarily win. The thing that I’m most pleased about is the total buy-in we’ve had from the players and the total conviction from the captain, and how he wants our team to play and how much fun the guys are having. It’s nice to get the wins and the success on the board, but it’s also great to know that you are doing it how you want to do it.
What prompted you to devise this ‘Bazball’ theory once you took over as England Test coach?
Well, I certainly didn’t call it (Bazball) that! And I don’t like that term either because it takes away from the thought process of the (England team) guys. You know, they work incredibly hard. They are very clear how they want to go about things and it’s a really simple gain that we are trying to achieve. Since the skipper Stoksey (Ben Stokes) has taken over, we’ve seen the team play with total conviction in its methods and I think that’s something that has worked out well for us. It’s not going to be always as rosy as it is at the moment, but we’ve had a good period, and we’re just going to trying to find ways to keep improving and getting better.
How good are India’s chances in the World Cup? Does Jasprit Bumrah‘s return make them the eternal favourites? Your semi-final picks…
Look, I think India will be very strong. When you bring Bumrah back into any side it improves you by a length. He’s one of those rare players who knows how to win games on his own and stand up in clutch moments. So, obviously an Indian side with him in it will be very strong. India has got so much talent, right. We’ve seen that in the IPL, we’ve seen young kids come through and burst onto the scene and perform and secure their place in international cricket and go on to have successful careers. I expect India to be there at the end of the tournament. To try and pick the semi-finalists will be very difficult in this World Cup. Sometimes, you go to a World Cup and you can have reasonable predictions about who you think will make it. On this occasion, not really sure..I think India will be there. England have a good chance. Then you’ve got the likes of Australia, South Africa, Pakistan, New Zealand…they always find a way in the World Cups. Bangladesh too in these conditions…you just never know. So, I think it’s really an open World Cup. Whoever starts well, will probably give themselves the best chance to be there at the end.
As a former Kolkata Knight Riders coach, you must be pleased with the progress of young batsman Rinku Singh, who made his debut for India’s T20I side in the opening game against Ireland recently…
Yes, (it’s) really pleasing, because I’ve seen the effort that he’s put in..the scrap and the fight. It’s never come easy to Rinku. He’s had to work for it. Because he’s such a humble guy and a wonderful team-man. He’s often easy to overlook, but what we’ve seen from Rinku in the past season and a half of the IPL, and now the opportunity he’s getting for India is that He has a game which he belongs at that level and he can do special things and I wish him all the best. He’s a great character and a great human being and a very, very talented player. I’m sure the world will enjoy his story.
How good are England’s chances in the ODI World Cup in India, particularly with the return of Ben Stokes from retirement?
An England side with Ben Stokes in it is clearly stronger. He’s one of those players who stands out and performs in big moments. We only need to point to the last T20 World Cup and also the last ODI World Cup to see that he has been pivotal in both those victories for England. So, he’s a big player. It does say something when you can leave out a player of the quality of Harry Brook (for Stokes). The depth amongst the England side is very good, as it is in other teams too. I think it’s a really open World Cup with lots of opportunities for every side. The Sub-continental sides will obviously back their chances in these conditions, and I guess the western sides will have to come up with methods to combat some of the strengths that they are going to be posed by.
There’s a lot of talk that Brook’s axing for the World Cup will hurt England’s chances. Kevin Pietersen was very critical of that decision…
Brook is a real talent. We’ve seen what he’s done in Test cricket. He’s played already in the IPL and in some of the brief moments we’ve seen in white-ball cricket. There’s no doubt that he’s going to be a star of the future. I guess it says something that he can’t get in the side…the quality of the players that the England side has got. They back the experience of the guys that have done it for them before, which I completely understand.
Would you be open to the idea of coaching India in the future? Which format would you prefer to take up the job in?
I’m pretty happy doing what I’m doing at the moment (smiles). It’s an incredible honour to be coaching the England Test side and working with the captain in Ben Stokes and some of the players that we have. It’s a real privilege. It’ a long way from where I grew up. I never forget where I come from. The role that I’m in now, is incredibly rewarding, so I’m enjoying myself!
There was a bit of criticism that the relaxation in punishment for slow over rates came about in the middle of the Ashes because it suited England and Australia…
I sort of struggled with the over-rate thing, because to me, you’re wanting to provide a great product, all right? And we had that Ashes series in which every Test was enthralling. You think of the money on offer now around the world to players in T20 cricket in particular and the challenges that Test cricket faces. You play such an amazing series and then you find the guys lose more money than they’ve earned! It doesn’t make a great deal of sense. And particularly when there is a result in all but one of those Test matches and that was the one (in which) we lost two days to rain. There must be another way out there to smooth out over-rates over a 12-month period, I don’t really know. Obviously, when you play in the sub-continent, over-rate is not a concern because a lot of spin is used. I don’t really know the answer, but one thing I really don’t really like is money being taken off players. I think there’s got to be a different method. I’m sure that there’s some smart people coming up with the plans here.
Will the 2023 ODI World Cup be the last World Cup in this format?
There are so many twists and turns that cricket can take. We’ve seen where the game has gone over the last 13-14 years since the IPL has arrived. The shift from One-Day to T20 cricket as a commercial vehicle to allow the game to prosper. I don’t know what that looks like in the next little while but World Cups are special and teams and players particularly enjoy being a part of them and they mean so much. Hopefully, it’s not the last one. But, you never know in this game, right? We’ve just got to make sure to enjoy it while we’ve got the opportunity.

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