Ben Stokes’ England must stick with Bazball for fourth Test with India

England captain Ben Stokes is not going to abandon Bazball (Picture: Reuters)

England’s Bazball approach to Test cricket has been knocked for six since the 434-run defeat to India in Rajkot and the knives are out for the swashbuckling style of play.

Critics are calling for coach Brendon McCullum and captain Ben Stokes to adopt a less cavalier attitude at the crease. They fear sticking with the philosophy will lead to further huge defeats like the one suffered in the third Test on the current tour of the subcontinent.

But that would mean casting aside the adrenaline-fuelled, box-office cricket which thankfully left the previous era, when England won just one of 17 Tests, in the rear-view mirror.

Why rip up the blueprint for those magical victories against New Zealand, South Africa and Pakistan? Why alter the formula central to the almighty contest with Australia in last year’s absorbing Ashes series? Fortunately, Stokes and McCullum are having none of it and are sticking to their guns. 

Of course, there will be some tinkering after the largest loss in terms of runs since the end of World War Two, as the way England collapsed to 122 all out in the second innings was concerning.

Ben Duckett can be England’s top batter in the fourth Test

Ben Duckett can be England’s top batter in the fourth Test (Picture: Getty Images)

But to ditch Bazball after winning 14 of 20 Tests using the entertaining strategy would be a big mistake. It’s time for England to hold their nerve, double down, and take the attack to the hosts in the fourth of five Tests. If the ship sinks again then so be it, England won’t be the only side pummelled by India when they are in full flow in front of their jubilant fans. 

In fact, it could be said India simply put Bazball to better use than the tourists in the third Test. Yashasvi Jaiswal landed our 3/1 bet to be the leading scorer at Rajkot thanks to his unbeaten 214 in the second innings and he’s 4/1 with bet365 to do so again in Ranchi. Jaiswal was the same price with BetGoodwin to be the top home batter and Ben Duckett, who hit a superb 153 in the first innings last time out, is 9/2 with Unibet to be the top England batter.

• Peter Wright is going to feel the Premier League Darts heat in Newcastle in more ways than one. Snakebite was controversially given the nod for this year’s tournament ahead of Geordie favourite Chris Dobey and the home fans may well direct their ire at the former world champion.

To make matters worse, the prospects of Wright picking up his first point this year look bleak as he’s facing teen sensation Luke Littler. A 6-0 drubbing for poor old Peter is 14/1 with William Hill, Ladbrokes, Coral and bet365.

Michael Van Gerwen to beat Gerwyn Price and Michael Smith to defeat Nathan Aspinall are both 8/11 with Ladbrokes and Coral, who go 3/4 world champion Luke Humphries wins by over 1.5 legs when he faces Rob Cross. Stick all three in a 6/1 treble. 

• Nicolas Hojgaard, Stephan Jaeger, Keith Mitchell and Maverick McNealy are our Mexico Open bets at 12/1, 20/1, 20/1 and 40/1 with Ladbrokes and Coral, who pay each-way for a top-ten finish. 


MORE : Ben Stokes could bowl in England’s fourth Test against India, says Ollie Pope


MORE : Bazball has made England all vigour, no rigour and it’s time senior players like Joe Root were held accountable

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