'It validated our style': McCullum after criticism of 'Bazball' tactics following Birmingham loss
Brendon McCullum stood firm in backing his team's ultraggressive 'Bazball' tactics during the Ashes 2023 opener and loss by two wickets in the close-fought thriller against Australia. The England coach had an interesting take on the matter, insisting the game only "validated our style" even as fans and pundits were left dismayed by hosts' infamous declaration and constantly attacking fields.
In a game marred by rain where the dryish Edgbaston deck, which began to offer uneven bounce and semblance of turn to the bowlers as it progressed deeper, offered an interesting balance to the conditions, perhaps tilted in favour of the bowlers, England opted to declare their first-innings at 393/8 on Day 1.
Despite the great Joe Root hitting a terrific century and finding good company from the tail, skipper Ben Stokes decided to have a 20-minute crack at the Australian openers, giving his pacers two bites at the cherry. It didn't work out, as Usman Khawaja provided the visitors a perfect guiding light with a marvellous 141 and reduced the English lead to just 7 runs.
Throughout the game, England persisted with their attacking strategy when put under the pump, going at an overall run-rate of 4.61, while the winning Australian side stuck to the traditional approach and batted at 3.20 runs an over, also setting pragmatic defensive fields to control the run-flow, especially in the third-innings.
McCullum defends English tactics after loss in Edgbaston
Speaking in the aftermath of the two-run defeat, which conceded a crucial 1-0 lead in the Ashes 2023, McCullum only pressed hard in defence of the aggression on display from the English but also backed them to come out harder in either skill for the second Test at Lord's, starting June 28.
"I think we played our style, which is to try and take the game forward," the Test coach was quoted as saying by ESPNcricinfo. "I thought Australia were happy playing their style as well, which ultimately led to success for them and I'm sure they'll continue with those tactics right throughout the series. I think it's set up to be quite a fascinating contest."
"Obviously you'd rather have won the game - that's just the nature of sport sometimes - but I thought the way that we played, I think it's validated our style of play as well. If we'd have got a little bit of the rub of the green then we might have been on the other side of it," he added.
McCullum said he doesn't foresee any major changes in the two teams' thought process in the middle come the Lord's Test, although he backed Stokes & company to push harder in breaking Australia's in-and-out fields and shrewd lengths and lines with the ball.
"Both teams have got a little bit of time to digest what's unfolded over the last five days and maybe slightly tweak a couple of things along the way. But I'd expect that they'd carry on doing the same sort of playing [style] that they executed here, and we'll be doing the same."
"I guess I had a bit of an inkling that they might try and put some sweepers out - and it's hard to argue because they won the Test match, right? I'm sure they'll stick solid to that strategy all the way through, which I think's great because we'll go a little harder and they'll probably stick to their strategy," he added.