Matches (33)
NZ v PAK (W) (1)
IND v AUS (1)
WI v ENG (1)
Abu Dhabi T10 (6)
Legends League (2)
WBBL 2023 (1)
BAN v NZ (1)
SA v BAN (W) (1)
IND v ENG (W-A) (1)
Hazare Trophy (18)

Ben Stokes lets South Africa do the 'Bazball' talking as England double down on mindset

England captain urges players to trust same methods that delivered success in early summer

Ben Stokes faces the media ahead of the first Test against South Africa  •  Getty Images

Ben Stokes faces the media ahead of the first Test against South Africa  •  Getty Images

Ben Stokes says he's "happy" for South African captain Dean Elgar and his team to continuing talking about "Bazball" and has vowed to stay true to the new style established under his tenure.
The last month has been punctuated by various members of the Proteas talking down England's new, attacking approach to Test cricket ahead of the upcoming men's three-match series which begins at Lord's on Wednesday. While all in isolation across various media engagements, it has created a sense the tourists are finding talk of a "revolutionary" approach a little grating. Speaking to Wisden Cricket Monthly, Elgar stated he saw no "longevity in brave cricket" and said England could have had "egg on their faces" in the opening Test match against New Zealand.
Elgar is certainly not alone in that view, and no doubt the tourists are itching to skewer a bubble that has been swelling off the back of four victories against New Zealand (three) and India. So far, no one associated with this England Test squad has engaged in those comments publicly, and it is also worth noting "Bazball" is not a term used internally. Even the man after whom it is named isn't a fan.
Speaking on Tuesday, Stokes said neither he nor his team are paying too much attention to the noise emanating from the dressing room down the corridor.
"The opposition seem to be doing a lot of talking at the moment about it," Stokes said. "We don't really speak about it that much. We just concentrate on what we do. We've got a style of play, they've got a style of play.
"At the end of the day, it's bat against ball; whoever plays best over a Test match is more than likely to win. But we don't dive into it too much, but we're happy for Dean and the South African team to keep saying they're not interested, but then also keep talking about it."
Elgar, for his part, insisted on the eve of the Test that he had said all that needed to be said about England's perceived style of play. "With all due respect, I am really not going to entertain that anymore," he added. "We've chatted about it long and hard. I just want to crack on with the cricket. I think the game deserves that respect. Mudslinging is a thing of the past for me and we are not going to go back and forth on that."
Stokes also announced his XI, with Ben Foakes coming in for Sam Billings as the one change to the side who secured a 2-2 draw against India at Edgbaston last month, in the delayed fifth Test of a series that began in 2021. Since the squad met up on Sunday, Stokes and head coach Brendon McCullum have made sure to remind the players of how well they performed at the start of the season and the need to carry forward the values laid down by the pair. For a side that had been in such disarray before the start of the season, it is something Stokes realises needs constant reinforcement.
"I think, for me, it was just reiterating the points of what we were making at the start of the summer, about our mindset, attitude and everything like that, about how we go out and play our cricket," Stokes said, when asked of his work beyond the nets. "Personally I feel as if it's one of those things that's the most important at the moment for this team, is believing in what we speak in the changing room and going out there and trying to deliver on what we say. Because the results will look after themselves.
"If we play to the standard that we have done over the last four Test matches, we know we are going to give ourselves a great opportunity of winning the game. If you don't play good cricket, then you're going to lose the game. For us it's just going out there and continuing with the attitude and the mindset you've seen from the first four games of the summer."

Vithushan Ehantharajah is an associate editor for ESPNcricinfo