South Africa head coach Mark Boucher has played down the threat of England’s ‘Bazball’, saying the visitors haven’t even given a name to the much-talked-about approach of the hosts to play Test cricket. Boucher said South Africa are sure of adapting to conditions and not allowing England to seize the momentum and run away with it when the two sides meet in the first of a 3-Test series in Lord’s, London on Wednesday, August 17.
England, under new captain Ben Stokes and head coach Brendon McCullum, have taken the aggressive route in Test cricket that has brought them rich rewards. After having struggled to stitch wins under Joe Root’s captaincy, Ben Stokes’s men are threatening to become world beaters in the longest format of the game.
If early signs are anything to go by, England are slowly but steadily becoming a formidable Test side. Stokes’s era began with a 3-0 drubbing of world Test champions New Zealand at home and a convincing victory over India in a rescheduled Test in Birmingham in July. England have shown a fearless approach, especially when it comes to chasing big totals in the fourth innings, managing successful chases of 250-plus on four successive occasions. Notably, England gunned down a 378-run target against India in Birmingham.
“No, I don’t think we’ve given it a name. I know that they’ve given a name over here, but we believe that we’ve been playing our brand of cricket. We’ve had some tight series where we’ve come out on top of late and nothing sort of changes for us. We’ve got our processes that we all go through in order to try to get the results going our way,” Boucher told the press on the eve of the Lord’s Test.
“I’ve always said that we like to be nice and smart. We want to play aggressive cricket, but you’ve got to be smart with regards to that as well. And nothing will change for us. You know, I know this is an England with South Africa series and there’s always a lot of hype in the media.
“There are a lot of things that get said. The bottom line is this game is between bat and ball and you’ve got to make smart decisions at certain times of the game. And, you know, we are focused on on trying to do that from our side and England will probably do the same. They’ve got their brand that they want to play, which is perfect. We just have got to try and match it on the day and try to find ways to negate that.”
South Africa are heading into the series on the backing of a fine run in Tests in 2022. After beating India at home, South Africa drew a series against New Zealand 1-1, before hammering Bangladesh 2-0 at home.
Boucher’s comments come days after Dean Elgar, the South Africa captain, played down England’s Bazball approach, saying it will be interesting to see if the hosts can maintain the intensity against the Proteas pacers.
Earlier on Thursday, Ben Stokes hit back at Elgar, saying it’s the visitors who have spoken the most about Bazball in the lead-up to the Lord’s Test.
“The opposition seem to be doing a lot of the talking at the moment about it. We just concentrate on what we do,” Stokes said on Tuesday.
“We’ve got a style of play, they’ve got a style of play. At the end of the day, it’s bat against ball and whoever plays best over a Test match is most likely to win,” he added.
WILL RABADA PLAY?
Furthermore, Mark Boucher gave an update on Kagiso Rabada’s availability, saying the lead pacer is likely to be fit for the series opener.
The fast bowler missed the Proteas’ final T20 against England due to an ankle injury and was not risked during the four-day warm-up match against the England Lions at Canterbury last week.
“I hope (he will be fit). He’s come on well I think,” Boucher said.
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