Pakistan batter Shan Masood warns England their Bazball approach will be ‘risky’ in three-match Test series – but believes their aggressive style under captain Ben Stokes could win them the World Championship
- Shan Masood has issued a warning to England ahead of their tour of Pakistan
- Masood has questioned whether the current approach of Bazball can work
- However, Masood believes that England have ‘put the spark back’ in Test cricket
- England and Pakistan begin the three-match Test series at the start of December
Shan Masood has raised doubts on whether Bazball can work in Pakistan but still believes England have come up with a long-term winning formula for Test cricket.
Pakistan batter Masood was making his own history during the 2022 summer as the first player to 1,000 first-class runs, form that resulted in the new Yorkshire captain being recalled to a Pakistan team accustomed to grinding out matches on home soil.
Meanwhile, England ripped up the traditional game’s play book, and won six of their first seven matches under new coach Brendon McCullum.
England have completely changed Test cricket under Ben Stokes (L) and Brendon McCullum
Now, they will take their attacking policy into a first overseas assignment, with the three-match series promising to be a clash of styles.
Asked whether England can play with uber aggression in Pakistani conditions, Masood told the Mail On Sunday: ‘I think anyone can but it’s risky. As a batsman, one bad shot here and you get everyone on your back.
‘The most important thing that England are doing right now is giving players backing. They’ve decided this is the way they want to play it. They decided that with their white-ball cricket in 2015 too.
‘In life, you have to take risks. If you don’t take risks, you probably stay in the same place.
Pakistan batter Shan Masood believes that England playing Bazball could be ‘risky’ in Pakistan
‘Life evolves, this game evolves, and England have decided to be the pioneers of it by introducing levels that were previously unheard of.
‘People initially laughed it off when in white-ball cricket they talked about scoring 400 but they did that, and ended up winning that World Cup three years ago.
‘Now, it’s come to Test cricket and I wouldn’t be surprised if they they start winning World Championships with this style of play because they found their own thing, they’ve seen a gap that maybe exists in cricket and been successful.’
England scored at an astonishing rate of 4.44 runs per over in the 2022 home season, more than 60% faster than their historical tempo of 2.76.
‘They played quality teams in New Zealand, India and South Africa. They’re not lesser teams. And it’s just exciting watching them play,’ the 33-year-old added.
‘What’s good as a cricketer is that they continue to play that way, don’t change and stay true to their blueprint.
‘They’ve made people watch Test cricket and see what they’re doing differently. They’ve made it more entertaining and put the spark back in it.’
‘They’ve made people watch Test cricket’: Masood is a fan of England’s new style of play
That spark might be hard to rekindle if the pitch in Rawalpindi, scene of the first Test starting on Thursday, proves as lifeless as when Australia visited earlier this year – only 20 wickets fell across 379.1 overs.
Both teams will be hoping for more in this one, with the hosts including bespectacled leg-spinner Abrar Ahmed – just like his English counterpart and namesake Rehan Ahmed, as yet uncapped – plus another newbie in fast bowler Mohammad Ali, whose nickname of Dizzy reflects the similarity in his bowling action to that of Jason Gillespie, within an attack missing spearhead Shaheen Shah Afridi due to an appendectomy.
The selection of four frontline spinners plus off-spinning all-rounder Agha Salman in a squad of 18 suggests Pakistan – who unlike England can still qualify for the next World Test Championship final – have identified a potential achilles heel in a stroke-playing tourists’ batting unit in which the injured Jonny Barstow is a notable absentee.
But reverse swing also proved a potent weapon for the Australians in their 1-0 series win six months ago, hence the call-up of Haris Rauf. The 29-year-old is one of the world’s primary exponents of the art in limited-overs cricket.
In contrast, England’s fastest bowler Mark Wood remains extremely doubtful for the series opener due to wear and tear in the body.
The quick Shaheen Shah Afridi will miss the England tour of Pakistan due to an appendectomy