Take a bow, Shimron Hetmyer!
No doubt the Brendon McCullum-Ben Stokes combination is pulling its weight as the duo have came out with an approach that shouldn’t have surprised many, but they still managed to surprise us with how quickly they managed to make their impact.
The approach and the mentality has been very impressive already.
McCullum is a real mentality monster and could go on to set new trends for Test cricket and potentially go down as an icon who changed the history of the game.
Personally I was surprised when McCullum was announced. Why we would he agree to serve England in the longer version, which is a very heavy and hectic job, as he could have easily secured any limited overs cricket job, or continue with his commentary gigs, make money, go home and relax.
But now the picture has become clearer.
When he was a player and captain, he had this vision to play Test cricket in a certain style – he tried hard, succeeded to some extent but didn’t really have the resources in terms of ability in his teammates, so he couldn’t fully demonstrate his idea.
I think the current English talent has lured him and resurrected his long gone idea, he now believes he can watch his philosophy materialised through the current English resources. Next Ashes series should get very interesting with the captain-coach duo.
Apart from this refreshing and attractive model of play, there are a lot of strange things taking place in England. The last four Test matches played on English soil have been thrillers, three against the touring Kiwis and now the ongoing Test against India.
Hard to believe but England clean swept the Black Caps and all three victories came whilst chasing in the fourth innings, eventually prompting Stokes to send India in after winning the toss in the ongoing contest.
A very brave decision, opting to potentially face Jasprit Bumrah, Mohammed shami and Mohammed Siraj in the fourth innings. In my opinion a bad decision, considering the quality of attack India has.
Astonishingly, almost every innings in these four Tests has had a comeback story where batsmen slotted at 5, 6 & 7 are rescuing their teams from bad starts. These trends cannot be mere coincidences or flukes when it is happening almost every time.
Top order fails, middle order crumbles and the late middle orders are producing some epic knocks and “get out of jail” partnerships at ridiculous strike rates. Daryll Mitchell, Tom Blundell, Jonny Bairstow and Rishabh Pant have been in the thick of these comebacks so far.
Now, why is it happening every time?
My guess is it is the ball, the red Duke ball. Looks like Duke ball has this unique characteristic of troubling the batsmen while it is still new but once it loses its shine it flips its character completely and becomes so batsman-friendly. Could easily be termed an Octopus ball.
Another reason could be New Zealand and England lacking that sting in their attacks that could run through batting line-ups using sheer pace. While England may be missing Jofra Archer and Mark Wood, the Kiwis did miss the likes of Lockie Ferguson, Adam Milne and Kyle Jamieson.
In favour of this argument would be if England struggles to play as freely against the Indian trio.
What else can be the reason?