Explained: What is Bazball Cricket – England’s fearless approach to the game, thanks to Brendon McCullum?

Bazball cricket has become a buzzword in England’s cricketing landscape, capturing the essence of a new approach to the sport. Coined after the legendary New Zealand cricketer Brendon McCullum, known as “Baz” during his playing days, this term signifies an aggressive and fearless brand of cricket. Let’s delve deeper into what Bazball cricket entails and how it has influenced England’s game.

Freedom of Choice

At the core of Bazball cricket lies the concept of freedom to choose. It is an approach that encourages players to express themselves and play with a liberated mindset. Jonny Bairstow aptly described it as a sense of freedom, allowing players to unleash their potential without fear of failure.

Faster scoring

One of the key aspects of Bazball cricket is the approach of faster scoring rates. England’s batting exploits in the Rawalpindi Test against Pakistan showcased their ability to score quickly. They amassed a staggering 506 runs for four wickets on the first day, setting a record for the highest runs scored by a team in a day in Test cricket history. 

Since McCullum’s appointment as Test head coach of England’s men’s team, it has maintained a strike rate of 77.06, the highest during this period. This fast-paced approach has also led to the execution of unorthodox shots, such as Joe Root’s frequent use of the reverse ramp.

Aggressive decision making

Under the influence of Bazball cricket, England has adopted aggressive field placements and bowling changes. Former captain Michael Atherton highlighted the shift in mindset during the 1st Ashes Test, where Ben Stokes was compared to his Australian counterpart, Pat Cummins.

Atherton observed that Stokes’ field and bowling changes were primarily aimed at taking wickets, while Cummins focused on containment. This change in approach has brought a fundamental shift in England’s tactics and has resulted in bold captaincy decisions.

‘No draw’ policy

Bazball cricket also emphasises eliminating the possibility of a draw. Stokes’ bold declaration in the Birmingham Test against Australia showcased his unwillingness to let the game stagnate or drift. Similarly, in a Day/Night Test at the Oval against New Zealand, England declared their first innings in the final hour of Day 1 to maximise the bowling advantage. This proactive approach aims to keep the game in motion and maintain a winning mentality.


Despite its success, Bazball cricket has faced criticism from some quarters. Indian bowler Ravichandran Ashwin questioned its suitability in certain conditions, stressing on the need to adapt to different pitch characteristics. Australian batsman Steve Smith expressed concerns about its sustainability on challenging wickets against formidable bowlers.

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Updated: 21 Jun 2023, 03:05 PM IST

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