Ben Stokes hopes the ‘Bazball’ revolution that has shaken up Test cricket and led an English resurgence can also fire up the domestic county game.
England have won nine of their last 10 Tests since captain Stokes and head coach Brendon McCullum took charge last year and imbued the team’s batsmen with an attacking mindset.
The England Lions, the country’s second-tier team, have taken up the mantle, with Jamie Smith smashing 126 from 82 balls in the first innings of the second unofficial Test against Sri Lanka ‘A’ last week.
Struggling for runs
Opener Alex Lees, who was dropped from Stokes’s England last year after struggling for runs, scored 97 from 113 balls in the same innings for the Lions in another knock straight out of the ‘Bazball’ playbook.
Stokes said Lees had brought “the message” from the Test team to the Lions and they had responded accordingly.
“It’s obviously shown. You look at the way that the lads have gone about (it), in particular with the bat,” Stokes told reporters on Wednesday, on the eve of the first Test against New Zealand.
“You can see they’re really pressing the game forward.
“It’s great to see it filtering down from us up here at the top down the Lions and hopefully into county cricket as well.” England were in a wretched place less than a year ago in the wake of a heavy Ashes defeat and a series loss away to the West Indies but they are now a picture of vitality in batting and bowling.
The sustained quality of pace stalwarts James Anderson and Stuart Broad has seen both join Ollie Robinson in the 11 for the pink ball series-opener against New Zealand in Mount Maunganui.
That has meant no place for the squad’s other fast bowlers Olly Stone and Matthew Potts.
There are exciting names in reserve in the leadup to the home Ashes, with Jofra Archer having successfully returned from a long-term back injury and speedster Mark Wood rested from the New Zealand tour.
Stokes told British media on Tuesday he had asked his medical team to give him eight fit fast bowlers to choose from in a big year for his captaincy.
“It’s a great place to be in now considering, especially the first game we had last summer, where we probably had three or four seamers to pick from,” he added on Wednesday.
“We always want variety with our bowling lineup. We’ve obviously got Jimmy and Broady’s experience and we sort of want to have some kind of X-factor in there as your third seamer.
“I feel like heading into the summer we’re in a position where we’ve got that. I think we’ve got a great crop of fast bowlers coming through England at the moment and it’s exciting.”