Birmingham, July 5 (IANS) England on Tuesday became the first side ever in Test cricket to chase 250+ scores in four consecutive matches when they successfully hunted down 378, their highest-ever chase in the format, to beat India by seven wickets at Edgbaston and level the series for Pataudi Trophy 2-2.
Former England captain Nasser Hussain was left in awe of how the hosts’ new, attacking approach has marked their turnaround in Test cricket, saying that winning four consecutive times is “unbelievable” while lavishing rich praise on second-innings centurions Joe Root and Jonny Bairstow over their unbroken 269-run stand powering England to victory.
“This win over India was remarkable. To do it once it is remarkable, to do it four times on the bounce is unbelievable, it really is. The form that Jonny Bairstow and Root are in – I can’t remember a pair of England cricketers being in such form for such a sustained period. I will be perfectly honest, it’s not really Bazball. The way they are playing is just what normal Root and Bairstow can do,” said Hussain after the match.
“They are not being reckless, not being stupid – have you seen either of them play a shot this summer where you think, ‘what have they done that for?’ Every time they have taken a risk, they have nailed it. They have been so smart, so sensible. You cannot bowl to those two at the moment. That’s how good they are. England have been outstanding and, more importantly the crowds have watched this style of cricket and said ‘I am buying into this, it is wonderful’,” added Hussain, who played 96 Tests for England.
Hussain also had words of praise for the transformative impact new captain Ben Stokes has had on the England Test side. “I don’t know of an England cricket captain that has had a quicker impact on our Test team than Stokes. The first time I saw him arrive in this England side I thought he was a smart cricketer. There are talented cricketers that go out there and do it and then there are smart cricketers.”
“Very rarely do you get a talented, smart cricketer – but that is what Stokes is. You look at the World Cup final or Headingley in 2019. He thinks his way through any given situation, so when I was asked who should take over from Joe Root as England captain there was only one candidate.”
Hussain further elaborated on how Stokes has been a standout as a Test captain. “(His early success) shows you not to judge a player by people that have gone before. All I heard was ‘it doesn’t work for all-rounders as England captain, Sir Ian Botham, Andrew Flintoff etc’. He is not Botham or Flintoff, he is Ben Stokes.”
“I have been impressed by some of the tactics and how he has handled spinner Jack Leach, some of the subtle tactics a viewer might not see on their TV screen. For example, for James Anderson and Stuart Broad he has mid-off and mid-on so straight and a cover but not a cover-point, saying to them ‘you are going to pitch the ball up as we are looking for wickets’.”