Dubai: Embattled England skipper Ben Stokes, who lost the first Ashes Test against Australia in thriller at Edgbaston, got support from legendary batter Steve Waugh, saying the brave gamble didn’t come off this time but will be in his favour next time.
England, who have been playing the aggressive Bazball cricket for the last one year, did a brave declaration in the first innings after scoring 393 for eight towards the end of the first day and lost the Test with about 10 overs remaining. “For a captain, every move is like a chess move. You got to think ahead and you got to strategise. Sometimes when you take a gamble, you got to be prepared to lose the game as much as to win the match. That’s something Stokes did on that day. So rolled the dice. This time it didn’t come off for them, but it’s not the same next summer wouldn’t,” the former skipper who led Australia to 15 of their world-record 16 successive Test victories, drawing comparisons between chess and cricket when he attended the inauguration ceremony of the Global Chess League in Dubai on Wednesday.
'It's like a chess move'
“The decision probably allowed the game to get a result with rain interruption. Without the early declaration, there might not have been a result. So look, I think a lot of people could be critical of Stokes as he’s the captain and he made the decision. It was a like a chess move. Thinking about it, next time it will,” he added.
When the cricket world feels that Test cricket is threatened by whiteball cricket, especially after the advent of the Twenty20 format, Waugh feels the first Ashes Test is a great advertisement for the five-day format.
“It’s a magnificent and memorable Test match where both sides had a chance to win. Test cricket needs positive cricket, that was a great advertisement for the game. For Australia it was a fantastic win. And for someone like Nathan Lyon it was really important, after what happened last time. So I feel really happy,” said Waugh, referring to the 2019 incident when the Australian off-spinner missed the run out chance only to see Stokes lead the hosts to brilliant win.
Steve, who along with his twin brother Mark Waugh, has won many battles and one of the main reasons for his success is his superior mental strength in difficult situations. The 58-year-old shed the light on his preparation and how Australia were superior in that department after coming in to England as underdogs against a high-flying aggressive hosts.
“It is all about preparation. If you know you’ve done the hard work leading in the match, you can feel confident in the result,” Waugh said on his approach to his game. “Like chess, you’ve got to stick to your game plan. And the opposition obviously decides the way they are going to. So you stick to your strengths and how you want to play the game and don’t focus too much on the opposition. So Australia did that pretty well. They did not get sucked into the way England pay their cricket and stuck to what they’re good at, sometimes grinding out when (Usman) Khawaja had to bat for a long period of time,” he concluded.