England will stick to ‘Bazball’ mode in Ashes, says Stokes

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England will stick to ‘Bazball’ mode in Ashes, says Stokes

LONDON: Ben Stokes is well aware of the threat posed by World Test Championship winners Australia but says England have “found something that works” and will not back down from their high-risk, high-reward style of play in the upcoming Ashes series.

Stokes and coach Brendon “Baz” McCullum have ushered in a fearless approach that has injected fresh excitement into Test cricket with England winning 11 of their last 13 Tests under the duo.

Stokes ruled out discarding that “Bazball” approach in the Ashes opener at Edgbaston from Friday.

“We know the threat that Australia pose, no matter who they are playing against, they are a very good team but we’ve found something that works and has been successful,” Stokes told Test Match Special. “That doesn’t change with the opposition.”

Australia crushed India by 209 runs in the WTC final at The Oval on Sunday and have not parted with the Ashes since reclaiming the urn in 2017-18.

Stokes said there was no point in adopting a more measured approach against their arch-rivals. “Nothing is going to change because we’ve had unbelievable success with it,” he said. “If we were to change anything from the last 12 months because we find ourselves in an Ashes series, then anything from the last 12 months will have been completely pointless.”

A one-word message from Stokes, after first-choice spinner Jack Leach had been ruled out of all five Ashes Tests against Australia, was all it took to bring slow-bowling all-rounder Moeen Ali back into England’s red-ball set-up.

Moeen said Stokes was the only England captain who could have persuaded him to come out of Test retirement.

And the left-hander could now be set for a return to Test cricket at Edgbaston, in his home city of Birmingham, when the Ashes series starts. “Stokesy messaged me with a question mark — ‘Ashes?’,” Moeen told reporters at Edgbaston on Tuesday.

Moeen said he had not heard the news about Leach, who has a back injury, and thought Stokes was joking.

“Then the news came through and I had a chat with him,” he said. “That was it. It’s the Ashes. To be part of it would be amazing.”

Moeen, who turns 36 on Sunday, last played Test cricket in September 2021.

But his developing relationship with Stokes — the pair were together with Chennai Super Kings during this year’s Indian Premier League — proved the difference.

Asked if there was any other captain who could have persuaded him to change his mind, Moeen replied: “Probably not, no.”

A powerful batsman as well as an off-spinner, Moeen has played 64 Tests for England, taking 195 wickets and scoring 2,914 runs.

But Australia have proved tough opponents for Moeen, with his career bowling average shooting up from 36.66 to 64.65 in Ashes cricket.

Nevertheless, he said he is relishing the chance to be involved as England bid for a first Ashes series win since 2015.

MCDONALD BACKS OPENERS

Australia head coach Andrew McDonald has backed openers David Warner and Usman Khawaja to rebound in the Ashes after the pair managed only four runs in partnership during the WTC final.

Khawaja had a forgettable test at The Oval, dismissed for a duck and 13, while Warner was caught behind for one after his promising first innings of 43.

Australia struggled to score runs at the top of the order during the 2019 Ashes series, with Warner dismissed by Stuart Broad seven times and finishing with an average 9.50.

“I thought Davey moved well in the first innings (against India),” McDonald told Australian media. “He got strangled down the leg side. You look at that, and you say ‘a little bit of luck there and potentially that’s a bigger score’.

“But the way he moved, the way he played is exactly what we want.”

Khawaja was dropped after three Tests in the 2019 Ashes but the stylish lefthander has piled on the runs since his recall to the squad for the Sydney Test against England in January 2022.

“Uzzie’s last two years speak for themselves. There’s going to be failure points for any batters and he’s had one,” said McDonald. “But it doesn’t mean he’s any less prepared.”

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