Matches (16)
IPL (3)
Pakistan vs New Zealand (1)
ACC Premier Cup (1)
County DIV1 (5)
County DIV2 (4)
WI 4-Day (2)
Match Analysis

Here's why England are like Mean Girls the movie

Their superstars make it a point to deflect individual praise onto the entire team and that mindset is paying off big time

Ben Stokes has won 10 of his first 11 Tests as England captain  •  Getty Images

Ben Stokes has won 10 of his first 11 Tests as England captain  •  Getty Images

England. Golf. Winning Test matches. Not necessarily in that order.
Other catchier mantras are available to describe what this Test side is doing, with less copyright infringement to get around, too. But as England completed their 10th win out of 11 under Ben Stokes and Brendon McCullum, all you could really do was reel off what has been the last two weeks leading up to this first win away to New Zealand since 2008.
They have seemingly graced every golf course in the North Island and left no stone unturned for this series opener at the Bay Oval. Since arriving into the country at the end of January, they have spent the last three weeks recalibrating the vibe with minimal actual cricket in the middle and still won their first overseas day-night match in six attempts with five sessions to spare. In the process, they secured England's biggest run-win - by 267 - against the Black Caps.
It took just 22.3 overs to take the remaining five wickets, though even that could have come sooner with Blair Tickner hanging around for 52 minutes before becoming James Anderson's fourth of the morning. Nevertheless, there was enough time to debrief in the changing rooms, celebrate in the middle and rejoin their partners who had settled in for some drinks in the sun in front of a Bay Oval field where the only cricket being played was the ground staff using the now redundant pitch to practice their six-hitting. Wonder where they got that idea?
There's a lot to be said of the impact this England team are having on one another and where it comes from. The top two are doing their bit and focussed squarely on diverting any praise from themselves and onto the team. It is part of the reason McCullum doesn't like the word "Bazball" but even that is becoming a bit of a joke among the dressing room. Joe Root, having been given a badge with McCullum's face on it and the phrase "LET'S BAZBALL" by veteran photographer Philip Brown, pinned it on McCullum's bag. At the time of writing, the head coach has not discovered it.
And yet, as we get closer to a year under this new era, it seems those in the squad have also taken to this altruism. This is a group not motivated by traditional milestones, reflected in the fact there were hundreds on offer across both innings that were not taken. They are, however, buoyed by accomplishments, which is just as well. Because in a dressing room wanting to encourage progression, there is no better measure for tracking whether they are continuing in the right direction.
After England struck 506 for 4 on the opening day of the first Test against Pakistan in Rawalpindi, assistant coach Paul Collingwood stood and recited the records they had broken: 500 had been scored in a day, four batters registering hundreds, the fastest double-hundred opening stand in Test cricket between Ben Duckett and Zak Crawley, the most runs scored in an over by an Englishman (24) by Harry Brook, to name a few.
There were similar moments to pause for a pat on the back over the last four days in Mount Maunganui.
Anderson and Stuart Broad bypassing Glenn McGrath and Shane Warne for collective dismissals, Broad's own four on Saturday evening, making him the first Englishman since Fred Trueman in 1960 to disturb all of the top three's timber. The manner of scoring in the first innings, particularly from Duckett and Brook, that allowed Stokes to call the second earliest declaration (58.2 overs) in Test history. Brook himself, with scores of 89 and 54, picked up a third consecutive Player of the Match award and no doubt as England spent the now free afternoon in the players pavilion at the Bay Oval, they would toast to his repeat success.
There was a nod to Stokes finally breaking McCullum's six-hitting record when he struck the 22nd ball of his second innings over the fence at fine leg to move ahead on 108. The 109th came off the very next delivery.
"I did know I was on that one for a long time," Stokes admitted. "When it went over, it was like I picked Brendon up off my shoulder and dropped him.
"He (McCullum) said 'well done' and I said 'Brooky will probably break it in the next 20 games the way he is going'. I can't see it being around too long if Harry Brook is in the side, which I imagine he will be for a long time going forward."
Then there's the six wins in a row - something England hadn't done since 2010 - and Stokes equalling Australian Lindsay Hassett's record of 10 victories in 12 attempts. It's worth noting Hassett took over Don Bradman's team, while Stokes picked up one with a single victory in 17 attempts.
At this point, it's getting a bit excessive. How many toasts are too many? Even weddings are kept to one speech per set of parents. And this sociable England team aren't keen on sitting still: they were back out onto the field with beers and a football once the crowd had dispersed by 4:30pm local time.
Ultimately, though, it was the moments that won't make it into record books and would be hard to quantify on the highlight reels that bound this win together. And it speaks of this England team that they, too, were brought up and celebrated in the off-shoots of conversations around the headline grabbing acts.
After Broad got his dues after play on day three, chatter among the group was on how the three mini-sessions to the close under lights had played out. New Zealand were 37 for 3 in 18.0 overs on day one and were now 63 for 5 in 23 in their second innings. Sandwiched in between was England's score of of 79 for 2 in 16. The difference was stark.
On balance you'd say the visitors had the best of the three. But it's worth remembering New Zealand won the toss. Had England not responded by going at 5.57 an over up first, they would not have been able to tilt the twilight advantage their way.
Similarly, Duckett and Crawley's opening stand in the second innings, while only 52, allowed the team to sleep on a lead of 98 after New Zealand had cut it to 19. Their bravery to stick to their usual method in in those conditions got a special mention.
That positivity carried over into day three and an opening session that saw 158 scored in 25.1 overs. The loss of four wickets an indication of the absence of stat-padders in the group. But it was Ben Foakes' 51 that provided the necessary bridge to the evening, his innings of 102 minutes playing the role of warm-up act before Broad took the stage.
Even the most words on Broad - and Anderson - on the penultimate evening were not of immediate and historical feats but their acceptance of basic duty.
"Last night I said in the dressing room we've got a 40-year-old and a 36-year-old set the standard of what we're about in the field in terms of energy," Stokes said. "Those boys will bowl all day for you but look at the way you see them running around in the field. After that 10 over spell last night, every time Broady got a ball hit past him he sprinted after it all the way to the boundary. Jimmy's always done that. When they've got a ball in their hand, with how many games they've won for England and probably will do going forward...they're setting a great example not only for us in the dressing room but for anybody who wants to have a long career in professional sport."
It's getting to the point with this England team where the end of each success replicates the end of the film Mean Girls, when Lindsay Lohan's character breaks the prom crown into pieces for every challenger. And given the manner in which England teams have operated in the past - especially the most successful ones - cultivating this atmosphere is no bad thing.
"It probably does sound silly to say that the results aren't at the forefront of our mind," Stokes said in his press conference. "And we've done really well - but the pleasing thing for me is that we've gone out there and we've been brave enough to execute everything that we want to do with bat and ball this week."
It's easier to preach for the collective, embolden the individual with nothing but positivity, and be all vibes to all men when you're winning. But it's getting increasingly harder to argue against the fact that the former, underpinned by an ever-developing nous and steel among the group, is controlling the latter.

Vithushan Ehantharajah is an associate editor at ESPNcricinfo