India’s Ravichandran Ashwin reveals the core issue with England in Test cricket

Mar 29, 2024

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England‘s once-promising Test cricket journey, under the vibrant leadership of Ben Stokes and the innovative coaching of Brendon McCullum, took a downturn as they suffered a resounding 4-1 defeat against India on Indian soil. Despite showing glimpses of competitiveness throughout the series, England failed to capitalize on crucial moments, ultimately leading to their downfall.

Debates on England’s playing style and tactical adaptations

The defeat sparked debates regarding the sustainability of their aggressive playing style, which had previously yielded success. It prompted discussions on whether England should persist with their bold approach or seek alternative strategies to counter formidable opponents like India. This defeat highlighted England’s need to adapt and raised questions about the effectiveness of their Bazball-inspired tactics in challenging conditions.

Ravichandran Ashwin’s insights on England’s Test cricket approach

In a recent conversation on the Club Prairie podcast with former Australian wicketkeeper-batter Adam Gilchrist and ex England’s captain Michael Vaughan, India’s off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin highlighted what he believes is the core issue plaguing England in Test cricket.

Ashwin stressed the importance of individual freedom in playing any style of cricket or implementing game plans. While acknowledging the success of players like Gilchrist and India’s Rishabh Pant in executing their unique approaches, Ashwin cautioned against the risks associated with an entire team adopting a singular pattern of play, particularly in long series.

“England, that you can play any brand of cricket, you can have your game plan, you can do whatever you want, there is that freedom to do it. Gilly pretty much did it throughout his career and we are seeing Rishabh also doing it. But the fact of the matter is if a group of people, like 11 cricketers together want to embrace the same thing or pattern of play, I personally think that’s the huge risk you are taking in the long series,” Ashwin said.

Also READ: Ravichandran Ashwin challenges England’s monopoly over hosting the WTC final

Individual freedom vs team strategies: Ashwin’s perspective

Ashwin further said England’s current approach to cricket is tailored to what they believe suits them best. He explained while it’s acceptable for individual players like Zak Crawley and Ben Duckett to embrace a Bazball-style cricket due to their skill set, it becomes problematic when the entire team adopts this mindset.

“They are playing a brand of cricket which they think is right for them. It is absolutely fine to have a playing style, but it should be restricted to individual players. Zak Crawley and Ben Duckett can play ‘Bazball’ cricket because they have that kind of shots in their arsenal,” the 37-year-old added.

Ashwin emphasized that while players like Joe Root possess exceptional technique, trying to enforce a uniform style across the team can lead to challenges. He said while Root showcased innovative shots like the reverse scoop and reverse sweep during the Ashes, relying solely on such unorthodox strokes is not sustainable. Ashwin suggested that England’s failure to adapt to varying conditions and game situations has allowed their rivals to exploit weaknesses and gain the upper hand.

“However, you can’t force a group of 11 players to believe in it. When all the players start thinking that they can play a certain brand of cricket, the problem starts. Look at Joe Root. He is a wonderful Test cricketer, who has the right technique. But he struggled in India in the initial games. I know he hit a reverse scoop and reverse sweep during the Ashes, but you can’t do it every time. England has allowed their rivals to defeat them by not respecting the conditions and the situation of the game,” the Chennai-born cricketer stated.

Ashwin’s critique of England’s self-perception

Ashwin also ridiculed England’s tendency to label themselves as the saviours of Test cricket. He found it amusing when they claimed to have revitalized and preserved the format by adopting a Bazball-style approach. The off-spinner believed that it seemed more like a marketing ploy rather than a genuine commitment to the traditional essence of the game.

“England’s habit of branding themselves as the savior of Test cricket. It is funny when they say that they have revived and saved Test cricket by playing the ‘Bazball’ brand of cricket. For me, they are doing the marketing and PR of the format and nothing else,” Ashwin concluded.

Perfectly summed up by Anna. #Bazball #Ashwin

— ∆ 🏏 (@CaughtAtGully) March 28, 2024

Also READ: Ravichandran Ashwin picks a seamer who is amongst the top 5 bowlers in IPL

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