Bazball Should Have Won England The First Test, Just Cut Out The Errors

England were beaten after a stunning ninth-wicket partnership saved Australia
13:03, 22 Jun 2023

England have received a hefty dose of criticism since Pat Cummins hit the winning runs to secure victory in the first Test at Edgbaston. The main point of focus has been the declaration in the first innings, which saw England call it a day on 393/8, with Joe Root still at the crease. 

Now, following the defeat, there have been some fears of another whitewash or even a repeat of the same 4-0 defeat they suffered in Australia 18 months ago. But this criticism and fear of annihilation seems like an overreaction given Brendon McCullum’s team looked to be in control for the majority of the five days. 

There’s been finger-pointing at individuals, mainly at Jonny Bairstow for his underperformance with the gloves, which has led to calls for Ben Foakes to come back into the team for the Test at Lord’s on Wednesday. But for all the frustration at the narrow defeat, England did almost everything right - yes, even the declaration. 


If they had added another 20 runs to their total on day one, Australia simply would have batted at a different pace on day five. It would have more than likely earned them a draw, but there’s no doubt that the visitors would have still fancied their chances. Don’t forget, when the declaration happened, the atmosphere around Edgbaston was electric. 

It felt like England were going to blast the openers away before the close of play and both David Warner and Usman Khawaja deserve huge credit for how they handled that situation. But ultimately, even with the early declaration, England should have won the match. They had Australia on the ropes. 

The baggy greens needed 54 runs to win when Nathan Lyon came to the middle on day five. They were eight wickets down and the boisterous crowd seemed destined to cheer the imminent England win. They just had to get two tail-enders out. Yet, Lyon and Cummins combined to hit the runs needed between them, with the captain himself hitting two sixes and four further boundaries. 


It’s a win that appeared so unlikely from the position they were in, and England couldn’t quite get over the line. But that doesn’t mean everything they did up to that point was wrong. Nine times out of ten they win the Test match from the position they had put themselves in. If the other four matches of the series end up in that scenario, England will likely lift the little urn for the first time in eight years.

It wasn’t the declaration that cost them, nor the aggression of Bazball. Instead we can look to other areas of improvement, especially individual errors in the field. Three balls into the second innings, Khawaja edged one behind but Bairstow was left statuesque, as the ball wriggled between the wicketkeeper and Root. 

Khawaja could have been out for five off three - instead he made 65. There’s 60 extra runs. There were six dropped catches in total, and a couple of other major missed opportunities. In the first innings, Stuart Broad skittled Khawaja on 112, only to have stepped over the line. The opener then went on to add a further 30 runs. 

Cameron Green should have been stumped but Bairstow let him off the hook while the misfiring wicket keeper also dropped Alex Carey in the first over on day three. When you consider all of these mis-fields, and the 23 no-balls England bowled, the hosts gave Australia at least 150 extra runs across the match. 

That is the reason they didn’t win at Edgbaston. Not the declaration. But it should also give them hope for the rest of the series. They’ve proven that they can compete, and outperform Australia over five days. They can take control of a Test match. They are not second best, it is just a case of taking advantage when opportunities are presented to them. 

England came from 1-0 down to win the 2005 Ashes. Bazball makes a repeat possible. 

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