After preparing for this game, we should have expected a lot of runs.
Everything that surrounded England’s first Test in Pakistan for 17 years was extraordinary, so it should have come as no surprise that the cricket itself turned out to be quite incredible.
The illness that tore through the English side meant they could only confirm an in-form eleven two and a half hours before the scheduled start.
If enough players hadn’t been released from the infirmary, the match would have been postponed for 24 hours. The way it turned out, Pakistan could have been content with a day’s delay. A lot more of that from England and they might want to send them back for another 17 years.
“We don’t feel like we want to be held back by the narrative of how Test cricket should be played,” captain Ben Stokes said before the match.
“We are now in an era with English cricket, with myself and Brendon McCullum leading red-ball cricket, trying to let spectators see the game in a different way.”
Joe Root put it more succinctly.
“Hit it, score fast and take wickets. Pretty simple,” he said.
It’s not just words, England practices what it preaches.
They are anarchists, disruptors and innovators, potentially changing the way Test cricket is played forever.
It will take a long time to know for sure, but we could see irreversible change, like when Dick Fosbury gave his high jump flop, Babe Ruth brought regular home runs to baseball or the Netherlands played their brand of “total football”. ‘.
England don’t like the ‘Bazball’ label, so maybe we should look for some new terminology. Anything before Coach McCullum comes in can be BB (before Baz) and anything after AB (year of our Baz).
The early days of the AB era, the English summer, looked like a wild adventure that might not last. The Trent Bridge chase – their fifth highest in Test history – against New Zealand, and Edgbaston’s march of 378 to beat India.
Would England be able to do it again away from the comfort of home? Would the fire still burn so bright when they reunited with McCullum after some time apart?
The answers came unequivocally on a day in Rawalpindi that was historic not only for England’s long-awaited return to Pakistan Test cricket, but also for the records they broke in one of the displays. most dazzling beat collectives the game has ever seen.
Zak Crawley’s fastest hundred by an England fly-half, Harry Brook’s fastest ton by an England batter in an overseas Test, and fastest team at 400 and 500 in an inning of testing.
The endgame score of 506-4, the most runs a team has ever scored on the first day of a Test – and England faced just 75 overs. Had they gotten the full 90, their scoring rate of 6.74 would have taken them to 607.
Yes the ground could have been dug from M6 and Pakistan played like a team that had never played cricket before but to downplay England’s achievement is like saying the Beatles sold a few discs.
If you want to know how different England’s effort is to the rest of the world, Australia needed 152.4 overs to go 598-4 declared in the current first Test against West Indies in Perth.
How England did it by giving players complete freedom to explore the limits of what’s possible and the faith to know they won’t be punished if they fail.
Crawley was supported by Stokes and McCullum through a lean summer, to the point that some of McCullum’s comments sounded slightly ridiculous.
“I look at a guy like Zak and his skill set is not being a consistent cricketer. He’s not that type of player,” McCullum said.
When Crawley bats as he did on Thursday, the first of England’s four batters to record a hundred, McCullum’s words come into their own.
Ben Duckett was likely to be best known for tipping James Anderson at a Perth nightclub. During his six-year absence from Test cricket, a broken hand forced him to relearn effectively how to hold a bat.
He was reinstated in the Test arrangement at the end of the summer and was given a second chance at the top level in Rawalpindi. Although it is one of the most affected by the virus, it has cracked its first century.
Ollie Pope’s promotion to number three has gone so well that he now appears to have been named England’s next captain. Even with the distraction of standing behind the stumps for sick Ben Foakes, he served the least flashy hundred 90 balls you’ll ever see.
The knockout blow came from Brook, who had a poor T20 World Cup and, with just one Test cap to his name, could easily have been sidelined to accommodate England’s all-around spin bowlers.
Not even a little. Taking Saud Shakeel for six fours in a single, he came close to the fastest ton ever by an England batter and only missed Gilbert Jessop’s 120-year-old mark of 76 balls per four deliveries.
All this amidst the glorious chaos sweeping through Pakistan.
Even without the confusion brought by the illness in the England camp, preparation for the first test included the following: Sky’s commentary team inadvertently commandeers the TMS bus, TMS producer Tim Peach receives an electric shock quite important while trying to repair broadcast equipment, striker Andy Zaltzman’s laptop charger burning with smoke and Vic Marks lunching at Rawalpindi Stadium inside his hat like a spinning Paddington bear.
England, the main creators of chaos, may be just getting started.
Ben Stokes has already moved to 34 on 15 balls, while Liam Livingstone, one of the best white ball destroyers in the world, and Will Jacks, owner of a century in The Hundred, are still to come.
“Hopefully we can go back tomorrow, get a big one and score a thousand,” Crawley joked.
It is truly a new way to play test cricket.
Embrace the chaos.