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Bazball, Shamar Joseph and Entertainment will keep Test Cricket Alive Around the Globe

Test Cricket at its best in Brisbane & Hyderabad.

It has been a long time since most of the past players and the real fans of Test cricket are trying their best to pan out a way to preserve Test cricket, that brings a joy after five days of heart-out fight. And the Bazball win for England against India, who are invincible at home and West Indie’s 27-year long ending victory over Australia at Gabba, once called their fortress, has lifted the spirits of the format around the world.

The format isn’t now only about defense and spending time in the middle, but it’s about trying to find new ways to bring results in it. No one wants to spend their hard-earned cash to go and spend few hours under the sun to follow boring game, but wants to enjoy every bit of time watching great fast bowling, or spin bowling, or attacking batting, or perhaps a great defense, only when the game demands it.

And to an extent, it won’t be wrong for me to express that the new sensational West Indies fast bowler, Shamar Joseph, who has been hailed as the player of the month and probably a person to keep an eye for the future if he holds his shape, has crafted the format a new way, along with England’s Bazball project under Ben Stokes and Brendon McCullum.

Bazball under Stokes and Baz McCullum to protect Test Cricket
©-Historic Cricket Pictures/Twitter
Bazball: Taking fear of defeat out of equation from the players

When it first took place under Stokes and McCullum at Lord’s against New Zealand and England didn’t hesitate at all going after the bowlers, I thought they want to finish the game under four days. I was very keen to see if they would apply themselves in the same way in the homes Ashes, and to be honest, they took one step forward.

That Stokes’s declaration on the first day of the Ashes at Edgbaston has actually explained the Bazball in a better version before my eyes. And after watching the whole Ashes and this first Hyderabad Test, if still someone thinks Bazball is only about going after the bowler, then the person needs a good spectacle to increase the eye power.

It’s not about going bananas, but about taking fear out of equation from the players and quite remarkably, the England supporters have given Stokes the cushion in doing so. Rohit Sharma or any other future India captain can’t apply it, and I can take full guarantee of that, specially after the speculation the India players have to go through after every wrong shot in a big series or tournament.

The Umbrella field set or the awkward bowling change to start with Joe Root, their least expected bowler would keep your eyebrows up, but not of Stokes or Baz McCullum. When a player gets out caught at the boundary rope, their first advice would be to go little more harder from the next occasion.

Pope & Hartley showed immense courage, skill and resistance

Ollie Pope, seven months away from the game with shoulder injury and not much form to talk about, was looking like a cat on the hot tin roof in the first innings, when he was throwing his hard hands at the balls outside his eye line. But he changed his stance and most importantly his mindset during the second innings to get in a better space and shape.

Tom Hartley and Ollie Pope took England to an inspiring victory
©- Nikhil Rajput/Twitter

When he came out to bat, England was almost 150 runs away to make India bat for the second time in the game, and he didn’t hesitate once before applying the sweep and reverse sweep against Ravichandran Ashwin or Ravindra Jadeja. When India went with Axar Patel, he danced down the track, and the only bowler he gave some respect was Jasprit Bumrah, who was showing special exhibition of reverse-swing.  

That led the spinner unsettled with their line and length and the even the greatest duo of Ashwin-Jadeja looked clueless at home. That was the very first time in Tests both of them went for more than 100 runs at home in the third innings of a Test match.

When the target was set for 231, Stokes started with Tom Hartley, who was a bit average in the first innings but in the absence of their veteran spinner, Jack Leach, who was limping from the first day with his left knee injury, Hartley was the best choice before Stokes and he looked in a better shape with overs under his belt.

He bowled with much more flight, in the stump to stump line and then there was always a pressure of the fourth innings chase, irrespective of what side is playing against whom. And India should really take a lesson for the future of not leaving any run in the ground when you are ahead and have a chance to seal the game from the front. There was some wrong shot selections from few of their batters, and then their crazy first hour where they made just 15 runs for the loss of four wickets at the start of the third day put them little bit on the backfoot.

Staying Away from Emotions and Vibes- The Right T20 Mantra

Shamar Joseph and the inspiration for future Test cricketers

What an inspirational story it was for Shamar Joseph and how he has put the small communities of West Indies and other countries forward to play Test cricket. Someone who came from Baracara, a village 225 km away over Canje River and a place where internet and mobile was something unknown before 2018, and for him to spend a 12-hour shift of security guard, it was privilege to even witness from such a long way.

He was injured by Mitchell Starc’s toe crashing yorker just 20 hours before his heroics and then quite remarkably was the fastest sprinter to reach the boundary rope after taking the last wicket of Josh Hazlewood. Joseph bowled a fantastic 10 over spell before the dinner break, and picked up the wickets of Cameron Green, Travis Head on a king pair and Alex Carey.

Shamar Joseph picks 7 wickets in the second innings.
©- Mufaddal Vohra/Twitter

He has the height and also the pace of 130-135 kmph speed with a past kind of action of the golden period of the West Indies bowling. It was his special performance at the Gabba that gave the team a win in Australia after 27 years and a victory at the Gabba after 35 years, which produced tears in Carl Hooper or Ian Bishop or BC Lara, all of whom were present in the commentary box.

The only thing that would still keep me under clouds would be how Pat Cummins decided to declare with 30-odd runs behind the first innings score of the West Indies. I understand he wanted to take full use of the night session against the opponent batters, but that’s good idea when you start whacking, specially after being set and got out or may get a few runs in the process. At the end of the game, that was the difference between win and lose.

It’s high time for the WICB to protect Joseph and preserve him financially and physically, and to keep an eye on his fitness, or how he is keeping his body ready for the next series and his long upcoming future. Also, he has to decide himself on which way he wants to be remembered, whether in Test cricket and being one of the greatest of all time to be part of the format or flying around the world in the multi-dollar leagues. And to keep WICB to be able to do so, the big three- England, Australia and India need to step up and make these boards strong financially.

That Mad Writer
Author: That Mad Writer

Someone who loves how Steve Smith from being Australia's future Shane Warne has become present Don Bradman, gets inspired by Anderson's longevity, gets awed with Kohli's drive and Southee's bowling action. Never gets excited with stats and records, and believes in instincts, and always questions spinners bowling with the new ball.

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