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England are in danger of reducing the Ashes to an exhibition, says Geoffrey Boycott

Legendary cricketer says winning is more important than entertaining

PTI London Published 23.06.23, 08:07 AM
England captain Ben Stokes.

England captain Ben Stokes. File photo

Former captain Ge­offrey Boycott has lashed out at Ben Stokes and his team for getting “carried away with Bazball” and not making winning a priority, adding that England are in danger of reducing the Ashes to an exhibition series.

England, playing an aggressive brand of cricket un­der coach Brendon McCullum and skipper Stokes, were on the wrong side of the result as they suffered a two-wicket loss in the Ashes opener in Edgbaston earlier this week.


“England are in danger of reducing the Ashes to an exhibition,” Boycott wrote in his scathing column for The Daily Telegraph.

“England have got carried away with Bazball and seem to think entertaining is more important than winning. But England supporters want one thing more than anything else — to win the Ashes.”

The legendary cricketer said winning is more important than entertaining.

“Scoring fast runs, whacking lots of fours and sixes is lovely. It is great. But only if England do not lose sight of the big prize, which is to beat Australia. If at the end of the series Australia go home with the Ashes, we will feel sick, regardless of how much we have been entertained.”

Boycott claimed that the much-anticipated Ashes series between the two rivals would lose its importance if England don’t play to win.

“If England are not playing to win then these Ashes Tests are not that important. They are only exhibition matches. They have got it back to front. It is not about entertaining and then winning. It is about winning first.

“By all means entertain but cricket is like chess. There are moments when you need to defend. Sometimes you need to be patient and accept it.

“Do not just attack, atta­ck, attack. England need a bit of common sense and pragm­atism. That is all that is req­uired. They do not have to change being positive becau­se they are a better side than Australia and will win if they just show that common sense,” he added.

The former opener felt England were guilty of not capitalising on their chances despite dominating the match.

Opting to bat, England declared their first innings at 393/8 despite Joe Root batting unbeaten at 118, raising eyebrows.

“The rule is to get as many runs as you can when the pitch is good before it deteriorates. England might have scored another 40-50 runs with Root on a hundred and Ollie Robinson, who can bat, but declared to get a wicket.”

“...If we are more interested in praise than winning then we have it wrong.

England to ‘go a little harder’

Birmingham: Head coach Brendon McCullum said the opening Ashes Test “validated” England’s attacking approach despite the two-wicket defeat at Edgbaston and that they would be even more aggressive in the second match.

It was England’s third defeat in 14 Tests since McCullum joined captain Ben Stokes at the helm last year in May.

“Obviously, you’d rather have won the game, but the way we played, I think it’s validated our style,” McCullum said. “If we’d have got a little bit of the rub of the green, then we might have been on the other side of it.

“It was a cracking Test match and two very different styles of play. But like a heavyweight boxing match, not everyone has to fight the same.

“I’m sure Australia will stick solid to that strategy all the way through, which I think is great because we’ll go a little harder. It makes for a really entertaining next few Tests.”

McCullum also backed skipper Stokes’ desire to take the game to the opposition.


McDonald keeps faith in big guns

London: Australia coach Andrew McDonald backed Steve Smith and Marnus Labuschagne to rebound from rare twin failures in the opening Ashes Test, but said it was a positive sign that his team could still win without getting hefty contributions from them.

The pair mustered only 35 runs between them at Edgbaston.

McDonald said it was “very rare” for Smith and Labuschagne to misfire in the same Test match.

“They’re disappointed they missed out in this game, but I think any time the Australian cricket team can win without those two performing at high level is always a positive,” he said.

“We’ve got some areas we can improve, there’s some growth within the team and there’s two obvious ones.”

McDonald expects the pair to work out their own solutions in net sessions. “They’re probably two of the greatest problem-solvers we’ve had over a period of time so you would expect them to go back to the drawing board.”


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