London: England men’s director of cricket Rob Key does not like the term “Bazball” but is surprised how quickly the Test team’s new approach has clicked under coach Brendon McCullum and captain Ben Stokes.
England had won only one of their previous 17 Tests when the new leadership, including Key himself, was put in charge to script a turnaround.
England have since blanked world Test champions New Zealand 3-0 and beat India in Edgbaston, particularly impressive was how they chased down 270-plus targets in all four matches.
“I never thought it would work like this,” Key told BBC Test Match Special. “There will be times when it won’t work, but for now it’s been fantastic to see.” Key, however, felt the term ‘Bazball’ did not do justice to the hard work put in by McCullum and Stokes.
“I’m not mad on Bazball the phrase,” he said.
“It’s not something I particularly enjoy because it devalues what Ben and Brendon have done.”
Key said appointing McCullum was a gamble considering the former New Zealand captain had no red-ball coaching experience before taking up the England job.
“I saw it as though I had two choices,” Key said.
“Did the England team, the Test team in particular, need someone who was going to be like a drill sergeant, a real hard taskmaster who’s going to be really tough on them and try and drive them in that way?
“I felt they needed someone to just take the pressure off them a little bit.
“I wanted someone who, with the talented players that we had, just freed them up a bit and got them out there to be the best players they possibly can be.”
Key revealed there was a feeling Eoin Morgan could retire as white-ball captain any time, and that was the reason Matthew Mott’s appointment as coach was hastened, with the thought that the Australian would be able to stabilise the side in the event of the cricketer’s departure.
Key said that with Morgan pretty much running the entire white-ball set-up, there was fear there could be a vacuum left once he quit international cricket, and to provide stability to the side, the then Australian women’s team head coach Mott was hired.
“One of the reasons I wanted someone with experience was in case Eoin Morgan gave it up,” said Key.
“When I came in, he (Morgan) pretty much ran the entire set-up. He never gave the guarantee of, ‘I will definitely be there for the World Cup’, and that became part of the decision-making process. This team really ran itself with Eoin Morgan. What’s the best way to do it when he’s not there? That’s why Matthew Mott. I wasn’t expecting this, but it was part of the thinking,” revealed Key.