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Rok Key: ‘Bazball’ term devalues England Test team’s achievements under Ben Stokes and Brendon McCullum

Rob Key, managing director of England men’s cricket: “I loved the fact that it seemed to capture the imagination of the public. That was not part of the plan, but Stokes and McCullum have somehow managed to do that”

Last Updated: 15/07/22 6:03am



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England’s new managing director of men’s cricket, Rob Key, reflects on the changes within the England set-up and the start he’s made to his new job

England’s new managing director of men’s cricket, Rob Key, reflects on the changes within the England set-up and the start he’s made to his new job

Rob Key, England’s new managing director of men’s cricket, has admitted the speed of the turnaround in the Test team’s fortunes has taken him by surprise.

England, under the new leadership team of captain Ben Stokes and head coach Brendon McCullum, have romped to four Test wins in four this summer – chasing fourth-innings targets in excess of 275 in each of those victories – after having won only won one of their prior 17 games.

The exhilarating, aggressive cricket in which they’ve achieved those wins has led to the coining of the term ‘Bazball’ in homage to England’s new head coach, though it’s not a term Key particularly enjoys.

Captain Ben Stokes and head coach Brendon McCullum have led England to four Test wins in four this summer

Captain Ben Stokes and head coach Brendon McCullum have led England to four Test wins in four this summer

“I’m not mad on ‘Bazball’,” Key told Sky Sports during England’s second one-day international win over India at Lord’s.

“It’s not our term and it devalues a little bit what those guys have done, and those two [Stokes and McCullum] in particular.

“It’s not about going out there and just looking to play shots. I don’t think Joe Root has gone out there and just looked to play shots. They have soaked up pressure as well.

“It doesn’t mean that you can only play in the Test team if you’re someone who is going to play a shot a ball. That’s not what it is about.”.

Kevin Pietersen gives his thoughts on the England Test team's new playing style under Brendon McCullum's leadership

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Kevin Pietersen gives his thoughts on the England Test team’s new playing style under Brendon McCullum’s leadership

Kevin Pietersen gives his thoughts on the England Test team’s new playing style under Brendon McCullum’s leadership

Key added: “The way the Test series went was really pleasing. I never thought it would go like that, you just have your views on the way you want to do things and the people you want to bring in, like Brendon [McCullum] obviously.

“I just loved the way they went about it. I loved the fact that it seemed to capture the imagination of the public. That was not part of the plan, but Stokes and McCullum have somehow managed to do that.

Ben Stokes gives his reaction to England's stunning victory over India in the fifth Test, calling the last five weeks 'the most fun' he has had in his career

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Ben Stokes gives his reaction to England’s stunning victory over India in the fifth Test, calling the last five weeks ‘the most fun’ he has had in his career

Ben Stokes gives his reaction to England’s stunning victory over India in the fifth Test, calling the last five weeks ‘the most fun’ he has had in his career

“And the way the guys played, they’ve got the best out of so many of those guys.”

Reflecting on the impact he has made in the role since his appointment in April, Key said that making the right appointments to lead the Test and white-ball teams was crucial.

He said: “I had a choice, where you could have someone who was going to be a hard taskmaster, really tough on the players, or someone who was going to try and free them up and get them to express themselves and reach their full potential by doing it that way. That’s what Brendon has done.

Brendon McCullum gives his reaction to England's 3-0 series whitewash win over New Zealand

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Brendon McCullum gives his reaction to England’s 3-0 series whitewash win over New Zealand

Brendon McCullum gives his reaction to England’s 3-0 series whitewash win over New Zealand

“You said it [to Nasser], England have four of our greatest-ever cricketers, and some of the most talented players we’ve ever had, you can’t tell me they can’t be a good side.

“We live in this culture in England where it’s like, ‘be careful of this, you can’t do that’ and that creates a world in English cricket where you can’t do stuff – ‘you can’t drive on the up’ – whereas what they focus on is what you can do.

“And then it was, ‘well you can’t do that against India, you can’t play that way against India… or Australia’.

“Alright, that might be the case, but let’s just live for now, play as well as we can and deal with what’s in front of us.”

England’s Test team are next in action against South Africa in a three-Test series starting on August 17 at Lord’s.



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