Days after South Africa skipper Dean Elgar said he is not impressed with England’s new aggressive and brave style of cricket — also called ‘Bazball’ after their new Test coach Brendon ‘Baz’ McCullum — England cricketer Sam Billings has warned that it would be “pretty stupid” on the part of the touring side captain to disregard the approach, which has earned the hosts four back-to-back victories in Tests.
England first made a clean sweep of the three-Test series against New Zealand and then thrashed India in the rescheduled fifth Test from last year to make it four wins in a row, playing ultra-positive and aggressive cricket.
Elgar, who is touring England for a three-Test series beginning August 17 at Lord’s had recently said, “There was often parity between England and New Zealand (during the Test series) and had New Zealand taken their opportunities, and their catches, then things could have been very different. England would have come away with egg on their faces.”
However, Billings who played a vital role (92 runs in the first innings) in England Lions’ innings and 56-run win against the South Africans in the tour match ahead of the Test series, said Elgar should dismiss ‘Bazball’ at his own peril.
“We’ve (England Lions) beaten an international team over four days by an innings in a manner of scoring 5.74 an over. You’d be pretty stupid to ignore that, if I’m honest. If that’s not a wake-up call… because we’re not even the best XI,” Billings was quoted as saying by Daily Mail.
“So, it’s up to them, really, but I think that’s laid out a pretty strong statement in the way we want the cricket to be played, but also being able to execute it and having the players to do that was really impressive.
“This (Canterbury ground where the Lions-SA game was played) is a very similar ground to Lord’s (where the first England-South Africa Test will be played) with the slope and things like that. There’s a couple of guys who Ollie Robinson had on toast this week. He bowled exceptionally well. It’s a similar kind of ground and a similar kind of feel. So the fact we got 20 wickets on a pretty flat pitch that had six heavy rollers on… What did we get? 672? It’s impossible not to take confidence, certainly as a group, but some of the guys are in the Test squad as well and they’ll take a lot of confidence into next week,” added Billings.
The South Africans posted 433 in the first innings against the England Lions but the hosts, riding on blazing centuries from Harry Brook (140) and Ben Duckett (145), and half-centuries from Dan Lawrence (97) and Billings (92), posted a mammoth 672. The Lions then dismissed the South Africans for 183 in the second innings for a massive win with Ollie Robinson taking three wickets for 29 runs.
“I’m a big fan of Ollie in terms of his character on the field as well — how he always provides an intensity even if physically it doesn’t come across that way,” said Billings praising Robinson for his effort.
“The way he approaches the game is infectious. And he backed up his performance in the first innings: he actually got better and from a pace point of view I was further back than I was first dig, when you’d think the heavy rollers would kind of deaden the pitch up.”