Karachi: England head coach Brendon McCullum said removing the fear of failure has helped the talent in his team come through after they became the first Test side to complete a 3-0 whitewash in Pakistan on Tuesday.
England comfortably chased a target of 167 to win the third and final match in Karachi, adding to their wins in Rawalpindi and Multan.
The high-risk high-reward approach that has brought England nine wins from 10 Tests has been dubbed ‘Bazball’ in a nod to McCullum’s style, but the New Zealander shifted the credit to new captain Ben Stokes.
“The side is very much in the image of the skipper,” McCullum told Sky Sports. “He wants the guys to go out there and play with as much freedom as they can.
Fear of failure
“He has identified that taking away that pressure and fear of failure allows the talent to come out.
“And what we have seen over the last seven to eight months is that skill and talent is not in question with this England side.” That fearlessness is not limited to the pitch, however, with McCullum also showing some moxie on the sidelines.
After a shirt he had signed for a fan got stuck at the top of a chain-link fence on Monday, the 41-year-old head coach wasted no time in scaling the barrier to retrieve it before throwing it over the other side.
Prior to the tour, England had won only two Tests in Pakistan and it was their first series win in the country since 2000-2001.
McCullum praises Rehan Ahmed
McCullum said he was “incredibly proud” of the team.
He also praised 18-year-old Rehan Ahmed, who became the youngest bowler in men’s test history to take a five-wicket haul on debut.
“He’s got a real future,” McCullum said.
“He’s been on the radar for English cricket. It took some courage from Stokes to thrust him into this side. The more we’re willing to do that, the better for us.”
Reflecting on England’s 3-0 series win, skipper Stokes said it will take a while to sink in, calling the result “pretty special”.
The tourists wrapped up the third Test and the series by effortlessly knocking off the 55 runs needed for victory, taking the match by eight wickets.
“It won’t really sink in until we get home or in the new year,” Stokes said after securing what was only England’s second series whitewash in the subcontinent following a similar result in Sri Lanka in 2018.
Slow and turning pitches
“I know it’s a cliched thing, but being out in the subcontinent is one of the hardest places to do it,” Stokes said.
“I understand, and we understand, what we’ve done is pretty special… to win 3-0 out here, it will be something to be really proud of.”
Stokes said everything he tried came off on the slow and turning pitches of Pakistan.
Seeing his tactics work in tough conditions “is the best thing”, Stokes said.
He had praise for every member of his side.
Great place to be
“I think everyone who has played has, at some point throughout the series, put their hand up and contributed to us winning a game,” he said.
“They’ve been amazing as well. Just a great place to be at the moment for a team, where everyone wants everyone to succeed and everyone understands their position in the team — even if they’re not playing.”
Stokes had warm words for leg-spinner Rehan Ahmed, who at 18 years and 128 days became England’s youngest Test player and then the youngest in the world to take five wickets on debut.
“For an 18-year-old to come into his first Test match and have such a cricket-savvy brain — especially under Test-match pressure — was really good for us,” said Stokes.
“We got a sniff of what he can do with the bat as well. Very talented young man, and I think just let him progress.”