NEW DELHI: England could not make the final of the World Test Championship (WTC) but their ‘Bazball’ approach is something batting great Ricky Ponting longs to see when India and Australia clash in the one-off contest at the Oval next month.
England’s chances of qualifying for the WTC final evaporated after debacles in Australia and West Indies last year with skipper Joe Root stepping down as part of their ‘red-ball reset’.
Ben Stokes took over the Test captaincy while former New Zealand captain Brendon ‘Baz’ McCullum was handed the coaching reins and England have since won 10 of the 12 Tests under the dynamic duo.
They did so playing an ultra-aggressive brand of cricket that puts entertainment above outcome and threatens to redefine how Test matches are played.
“I think the cricket-loving world deserves to see an unbelievably good Test match with a result,” Ponting said of his expectations for the WTC final beginning on June 7.
“The really refreshing thing that I’ve seen in world Test cricket in the last two years has been the way that England played — this all-out, win-at-all-costs sort of approach.
“I’m a cricket-lover, I’m a cricket-watcher, I’m a cricket commentator, so I want to see cricket played the best way it can be.
“I think what England have done, they played test match cricket the best way it can be played.”
Stokes has said the England team under him would not mind the occasional defeat in their risk-fraught pursuit for victory and Ponting wants Indian captain Rohit Sharma and Australia counterpart Pat Cummins to embrace that attitude.
“I think both captains and both teams in this final deserve to show the world that Test match cricket can be played in an aggressive manner and always looking to win the game, take the game forward and win the game.
“And that’s what everyone wants to see.”
Ponting said the India-Australia rivalry had grown more intense since the late 1990s, especially after India found a steady supply of quality pace bowlers.
India have not relinquished the Border-Gavaskar Trophy series since claiming it in 2017, winning twice Down Under, but the neutral venue might slightly favour Australia in the WTC final, reckoned Ponting.
The contest between the top two Test teams could prove a battle between India’s formidable top order and Australia’s fiery pace attack, he said.
“I think it’s bit of a mouthwatering thought going forward,” added Ponting.
Published in Dawn, May 20th, 2023
Dear visitor, the comments section is undergoing an overhaul and will return soon.