The Light Roller

Why Baz is more of a cricket god than you think

Verily did England need a messiah to deliver them from a mess. And behold, one did appear

Alan Gardner
Alan Gardner
"And the foe, having been naughty in my sight, shall snuff it"  •  John Walton/PA Photos/Getty Images

"And the foe, having been naughty in my sight, shall snuff it"  •  John Walton/PA Photos/Getty Images

Extracts from the scripture of St Bren
And lo, did the wise men (relatively speaking) of the ECB seek counsel from the shepherd Bren, of the faraway land of Inzid. And they said unto him, our Test cricket is in a right two and eight, could ye be persuaded to leave the T20 tiddlywinks behind and perform a true miracle?
And so it was written.
Bren left the wilderness to guide his new flock, and he preached only of kindness, and goodness, and chasing every ball to the boundary. And privily did he bestow unto them his wisdom, pumping the tyres of his disciples and playing the hymnals - e.g. Robbie Williams' "Angels" - from his sacred boombox.
Thus he spake: "Call me Baz."
And he set down the commandments by which his faithful should live:
1. Do as ye would be done by (play hard and fair, lads)
2. Give it a whack
3. If in doubt, add an extra slip
4. Be thine best self
5. Plan as if ye will live until the resurrection, live as if ye will achieve deliverance tomorrow
Soon there was light where heretofore there had been darkness, as the followers of Bren trusted their game and played unto his divine word. And they were sent forth into the benighted land to spread the gospel.
Stokesy the Apostle: "Test cricket needed salvation. We are now playing for a higher purpose - win, lose or draw. Well, not draw, obviously, not the way we bat."
Broady the Nighthawk: "Everything is about how we can move the game forward, whether that is always looking for the wicket-taking option or going out, shutting your eyes and trying to leather every ball over deep square leg. And I think the crowds are really connecting with our message."
Zachariah the Opener: "It's great, I don't have to score runs anymore!"
And lo did England win six out of seven, and the people did rejoice.
And the word went forth. "Let it be known as 'Bazball'," sayeth some bright spark, although Bren isn't too keen on this. But he sitteth and he smileth, and he weareth his shades and cap at a jaunty angle.
Behold, said the herald from the ECB - a great prophet hath risen among us, and the World Test Championship will never be the same again. Talk about putting bums on seats!
And Bren did give a sermon, though only occasionally, so as not to take the limelight from his disciples.
"Blessed are the bat-makers…"
(New English Test-ament continues for 96 pages)


Back to the real world and the exxciting (sic) arrival of another T20 league. To get noticed these days, you really have to make a splash - but whereas the Hundred decided to pointlessly tweak all of the playing conditions, the SA20 has gone with a jazzed-up logo. Over to CSA's press release, which reckons the new tournament's identity is founded on "bold and energetic iconography", incorporating an XX - the number 20 in roman numerals, rather than anything saucy - and a colour scheme of cyan, navy and green, which is "symbolic to the world of cricket - day, night and the 22 yards" (no it's not just ripped off from some environmental expo). They've also saved 20% on the characters used in the name. "Dropping the T in T20 cricket shows our intention to be different," said Graeme Smith, SA20 league commissioner. Remember that when MI Cape Town line up against Johannesburg Super Kings in a contest that looks strikingly similar to some T20 you might have seen before.


If you're anything like the Light Roller, you'll remember exactly where you were on September 8, 2022. Rumours swept Twitter as the rain drummed down at The Oval. It had been expected for a long, long time, but some had begun to doubt whether it would actually happen. Could the status quo go on forever? There had been dark times, periods of turmoil and national intrigue - but then, all of a sudden, the moment was upon us. The crowds flocked to pay their respects. The line of succession was unbroken. Jubilation filled the realm as No. 71 was unveiled before a rapturous public… and King Kohli sat on his throne once again.

Alan Gardner is a deputy editor at ESPNcricinfo. @alanroderick