10 months ago

McCullum unleashes a new brand of Test cricket in England

Photo: ESPNCricinfo
Photo: ESPNCricinfo

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England had 71 overs to chase down 299 on a day five pitch, against the World Test Champions New Zealand -- with a batting lineup that gave them no hope of doing so, considering their recent performances.

But this was a different England; this was Ben Stokes’ England, Brendan McCullum’s England.

This England knew no fear, as their World Champion ODI side. So despite a draw looking like the more feasible outcome, the English went out and bludgeoned their way to a victory within 50 overs in a true ODI manner, or true McCullum manner.

From the start of this series, England looked different. They were more attacking and proactive. But it still took a Joe Root masterclass to take them home at Lord’s.

In the second though, Root, who had been carrying England for the past couple of years, faltered. And England were 93-4 at one point.

From there, nobody thinks of a chase. And it looked like England weren’t either. At tea, they were 139-4, requiring 160 in the final session. With only Ben Foakes as the lone remaining recognised batsman, anyone would assume that Stokes and Jonny Bairstow would be told to just see it out.

But the New Zealander sitting in the England dressing room doesn’t think like a common man. He revolutionised New Zealand with their fearless approach as the captain, which England followed to win the World Cup. And he did the same at Trent Bridge.

Stokes and Bairstow, known for their firepower, just obliged as the master said. The pair took 13 off the first over after tea. Bairstow reached his fifty off 51 deliveries, but the carnage was yet to come.

After tea, Stokes and Bairstow took 110 runs in 10 overs. Let's give another reminder, it came on day five of a Test match!

Bairstow took just 26 balls to double his half-century and went on to score 136 runs off 72 deliveries. He plummeted the Blackcaps bowlers to the pitch, smashing them for 14 fours and seven sixes.

Stokes, though, stayed unbeaten. He scored 75 off 70 balls, hitting 10 fours and four sixes, one of which went out of the stadium. 

He hit a six, dot, a four, and then a four through cover, reminiscing of his epic at Headingley, to finish the match off, and seal his first series win as the skipper.

Stokes has had his fair share of epic victories. The 2019 World Cup final, the miracle at Headingley, and now the toying at Trent Bridge.

But he was still in awe, and while many might opine otherwise, Stokes put this win ahead of the others.

“That blows away Headingley, it blows away Lord's and the World Cup final. I just can't quite wrap my head around how we've chased 299 with 20 overs left on day five of the Test match when we had to bowl 15 overs this morning. That's never going to happen again. But if it does, it is probably us who are going to do it,” he said after the match.

Bairstow kind of explained their win.

“When you get in that mood, you've got to just go with it. The plan that (New Zealand) set out with after tea was do or die, so you've got to do,” he said.

Well, those words sound inspired by someone else. England looks like a new side, and we all know the mastermind. The nonchalant man chewing gum, the ‘Buzz.'

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