Ben Stokes’ new world order gets sobering reality check against India | Jonathan Liew


England have been playing positive cricket for four weeks, but the slick visitors have perfected it over the past four years

At one point during an interminable and broken afternoon at Edgbaston, the camera zoomed in on the array of listless faces on the England balcony. Perhaps this, rather than the swishing blade of Rishabh Pant or Jasprit Bumrah, was the first big test of England’s vivid new approach to Test cricket. Whether with the bat or in the field, this is a team that feeds on momentum, the buzz of a live audience, that lives for the vibe and the thrill, that wants to do everything in a hurry. So what happens when the heavens open with India leading the series 2-1, a deficit of 356 still on the board and much of the crowd already sloping off home?

Then again, maybe that’s just the old negativity talking. Maybe the England of Ben Stokes and Brendon McCullum were fervidly formulating yet another bold stratagem. Attack the rain. Run into the downpour. Certainly you could imagine Stokes himself itching to get out there and show the weather who was boss. Obviously you’ve got to respect precipitation’s record at this level. But like any meteorological phenomenon, put it under pressure and it cracks. And really, when you break it down, is there really any difference between wetness and dryness?

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Written by Jonathan Liew at Edgbaston
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