England is reportedly considering deploying short boundaries for the upcoming Ashes series to assist the team’s ‘Bazball’ strategy against Australia’s world-class bowling quartet.
Since Brendon McCullum was appointed head coach last year, England has won ten of their most recent 12 Tests with an aggressive brand of cricket, colloquially dubbed ‘Bazball’.
England, led by talented all-rounder Ben Stokes, has scored 4.76 runs per over since May last year, compared to 3.56 for Australia.
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According to The Times, England has discussed using a small playing area for the five-Test series to help batters take down Australia’s bowling attack, which prides itself on consistency and accuracy.
England’s cricket venues are already considerably smaller than Australia’s — the shortest boundary at Edgbaston, which will host this year’s Ashes opener, is less than 60 metres, while the MCG’s longest boundary is approximately 84 metres.
The ICC’s Test playing conditions state that no boundary can be shorter than 59 metres from the centre of the pitch, while the boundary rope must be brought in between three and ten yards to create a safe run-off area for fielders.
Speaking on Sky Sports Radio’s Big Sports Breakfast, former Australian captain Michael Clarke rubbished any suggestion that shorter boundaries would help England’s cause.
“What a load of junk,” Clarke said on Monday morning.
“Australian grounds are twice the size of England grounds anyway. That’s why there’s less sixes from the Australian players. Bat at the MCG you’ve got 90m boundaries, bat in England you’ve got 60m boundaries.
“Who cares? Both teams have got to bat.”
SIXES IN TEST CRICKET SINCE MAY 2022
86 — England
58 — India
56 — New Zealand
56 — Sri Lanka
38 — Pakistan
37 — West Indies
32 — Australia
24 — Bangladesh
13 — South Africa
Last month, Stokes revealed he has requested “fast, flat” wickets for the upcoming Ashes series, further aiding the team’s ‘Bazball’ strategy.
“We’ve been very clear with the groundstaff around England about what type of wickets we want and they’ve been very responsive to us, which is good,” Stokes told Sky Sports.
“We want fast, flat wickets. We want to go out there and score quickly.”
The flat decks and short boundaries could tempt Australia into tinkering with its game plan in England this winter, but captain Pat Cummins declared his teammates would not be lured into imitating ‘Bazball’, regardless of the conditions.
“Over the last 18 months, the way we’ve gone about it has been really successful, so you don’t want to lose sight of that,” Cummins told foxsports.com.au.
“I think that’s the most important — worry about what we do well, rather than looking at the opposition.”
However, speaking to reporters last month, chief selector George Bailey revealed Australia would reassess the Ashes squad after two Tests pending “what the brand of cricket looks like”.
Earlier this year, Australian coach Andrew McDonald confessed the Test side’s batters abandoned their plans during the Delhi Test against India when confronted with spin-friendly conditions.
The Australians lost 8-28 in a dramatic collapse in the second innings, with a baffling reliance on cross-bat stroke play backfiring at Arun Jaitley Cricket Stadium.
“England should be confident. They’ve got a great record there against us … they’re playing good cricket, they’re scoring runs, they’re willing to take risks to lose. they’ve got a leadership group, captain and coach, who don’t fear losing,” Clarke said.
“I love their confidence, I don’t have a problem with that. produce whatever wickets you want. The boys have played enough cricket in England. We will be better prepared in England then we were for India but we need to prepare well, we need to play our best cricket and I still believe we can win the Ashes series, no doubt.”
The first Ashes Test between England and Australia gets underway at Edgbaston on June 16.
News Source: https://www.foxsports.com.au/cricket/england-reportedly-considering-employing-short-boundaries-for-the-ashes-to-help-bazball-strategy/news-story/2ffac70075a0ef79e65f5a0b7f212ac3