Mitchell Johnson has criticized England’s Bazball’s approach as a ‘brain swoon’ that is almost ‘disrespectful to the game’, after the hosts’ top order collapsed in both innings of the Ashes second Test at Lord’s.
England looked poised to take a first-innings lead, but fell from two for 188 to five for 279 and then lost their remaining five wickets to just 46 runs in a dismal batting display on Day 3.
Chasing an unlikely 371 to level the series, England were down to four for 45 on Saturday, before Ben Duckett and Ben Stokes steadied the ship.
England, however, need another 257 runs on the final day at the Home of Cricket to level the series.
And the former Australian fast bowler believes the hosts’ ultra-aggressive approach has been caught.
Johnson described Harry Brook’s shot as completely reckless under the circumstances.
Brook was thrown out for an ugly crossover shot in the early innings when he was caught on Mitchell Starc’s pitch for 50
“It took just eight days into the Ashes series for Bazball to be exposed as Brainfadeball,” he wrote in his column for The West Australian.
‘Some people see Bazball as an amazing game and say it makes Test Cricket exciting.
You know who else it’s exciting for? The opposition. It’s exciting for the Australian team or any team playing them that they have a good bowling attack and good plans.”
“As a fan, I don’t find Bazball exciting. In England’s first innings at Lord’s, it almost got to the point where it was disrespectful to the game.”
In the run up to the Ashes, England’s cocky focus managed 11 wins from 13 Tests after Stokes took over as captain and Brendon McCullum replaced Chris Silverwood as head coach.
By comparison, England had won only once in their previous 17 Tests.
However, the style has been found wanting in the first two Tests of the series, with England routinely dropping wickets rather than pressing their advantage.
Zak Crawley was stumped after inexplicably walking down the track towards Nathan Lyon in the early innings, before Duckett, Ollie Pope, Joe Root and Harry Brook succumbed to the short ball.
Australia ripped through England’s batting line-up with a barrage of bouncers
Mitchell Johnson believes England’s ultra-attacking approach has proven flawed
“That’s not entertaining, sorry, that’s Test cricket nonsense and Australia will be delighted with that method,” former England captain Michael Vaughan told BBC Sports.
Brook was particularly unconvincing when he compiled his 50, before slapping Mitchell Starc outright to cover for him.
McCullum and Stokes have maintained that England will continue to be aggressive, but Johnson insisted that they will do so at their own risk.
“The recklessness of this is staggering,” he said.
‘That Harry Brook throw to go out in the early innings was disgusting. It was shocking.
“The only people who praise him are the people inside that England dressing room.”
Johnson described England’s approach in their first innings at Lord’s as sloppy and poor and warned that Australia have shown that Bazball’s do-or-die approach has no future in the game’s longer format.
“If they would refine it and put some more thought into it, then Bazball might have some future,” he said.
“But at the moment it’s all or nothing and they’re essentially gambling on Twenty20 luck. In the longer format, I don’t think it’s a smart approach.’
Featuring Ben Stokes (left) and Brendan McCullum (right), England have won 11 of their 13 Tests ahead of the Ashes but are on the verge of losing 2-0 in the series.
Duckett missed a Test ton by two races after being bowled out by Josh Hazlewood in 98, but he had no regrets.
‘It’s a shot I play and a shot I’ve scored a lot of runs with in my career. I would have gutted myself if I had walked away from him, gone into my shell and put a glove on my back,” he said.
Ten meters to each side and I have a hundred. Dropping so close to three figures here at Lord’s, I was obviously gutted for half an hour afterwards, but I’m happy with the way I played. I thought they were without a doubt my best innings in an England shirt.
It’s the way we play cricket. If they have plans like that and we go into our shell, it would be totally against what we do. We lost a couple of wickets but we are in a good position.’