‘Dramatic’ call turned ‘rabble’ into Aussie nightmare

England cricket was on its knees barely nine months ago.

A nightmare tour of Australia last summer resulted in a 0-4 Ashes loss, a broom being put through the coaching and selection staff, and eventually Joe Root standing down from the captaincy.

A series loss to the West Indies followed, and they sunk further into the quagmire.

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When a bomb is put under an organization as big as that, it typically takes years to rejuvenate to a standard that can compete with its main rivals.

But England is the talk of the cricketing world this week on the back of two thrilling Test match victories in Pakistan, and a first series victory in the subcontinent country in 22 years.

Almost all the credit is going the way of new coach Brendon McCullum – a former top-order blaster for New Zealand – and new skipper Ben Stokes.

Stokes, 31, never lost his cool in Multan on Monday even when Pakistan came within 27 runs of pulling off an incredible victory.

“He’s transformed England’s Test match team,” England great Mike Atherton told Sky Sports of Stokes.

“He’s just completely galvanized them with virtually the same players. It’s just the measure of leadership.

“He’s going to be a very significant English captain. He’s going to be one of our greatest ever captains by the time he finishes I think.

“I can’t remember or think of another captain – certainly for England and I’m trying to think more worldwide – who’s had such a dramatic and immediate impact upon taking over.

“Think where England were. I stood at the end of the Ashes calling for the heads of the captain and the coach and director of cricket – England were terrible at the end of that Ashes. Then getting beaten in the Caribbean.

“Suddenly, the whole team has completely transformed and galvanized under different leadership.

“The combination of Stokes and McCullum and that clear messaging that we’ve talked about it and that creation of an attitude where ‘it’s not the be-all and end-all if we get beat, we’re going to give it a go … we’re going to plan for the future but live for the moment’.”

The English men’s cricket team had a certain stench around it following the disastrous Ashes tour.

Now many pundits are asking whether any rival nation can match them on the pitch at the moment, such has been the success of Stokes and McCullum.

Since the pair took charge of the team they’ve won eight of nine Test matches.

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They’ve done so by adopting a fresh approach to Test cricket – coined “Bazball” as a nod to the new coach – which essentially allows the players to play aggressively and without fear of losing their wicket.

It’s only a small sample size so far, but the tactics appear to be working.

“The series defeat by West Indies, sealed with a 10-wicket thumping in Grenada, was like a car crash,” prominent English columnist Jonathan Agnew wrote for the BBC.

“There was no coach and it was obvious Joe Root could not continue as captain. The red-ball reset was a shambles.

“If you had told me then that nine months later England would have eight wins from nine Tests, including two in Pakistan, I would have said there was absolutely no chance.

“The success of Ben Stokes’ team is a reflection of the way they play. The transformation from the rabble beaten in Grenada has been built on instilling unwavering confidence into the players.”

England has one more Test match in Pakistan where they will be shooting for a series cleansweep.

All eyes Down Under are on next year’s Ashes series in the motherland, and how the Aussies will respond to the “Bazball” phenomenon.

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