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Ben Stokes was thrilled to hear South African players remark about England’s new “Bazball” style

  • Ben Stokes is happy to hear South African players talk about England’s new “Bazball” style.
  • South Africa captain Dean Elgar had said he had “absolutely no interest” in it.
  • England plays South Africa in the first Test of the three-match series at Lord’s.

Ben Stokes said on Tuesday that he was happy to hear South African players talk about England’s new “Bazball” style before the first Test at Lord’s, even though he has tried to distance himself from the hype.

Dean Elgar, the captain of South Africa, said last week that he had “absolutely no interest” in England’s new style, which has helped them win their first four games under the new leadership of captain Ben Stokes and head coach Brendon McCullum.

“Bazball” is a reference to McCullum’s nickname, and Elgar also hinted that he didn’t think it would be a long-term success in the five-day format.

Stokes said on the day before the first Test of the three-game series that the Proteas had talked about the issue.

The all-rounder said, “The opposition seem to be doing a lot of talking about it at the moment — we don’t really speak about it that much,”

“We just concentrate on what we do.

“We don’t dive into it too much, but I’m happy for Dean and the South Africa team to say they’re not interested and then keep talking about it.

“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 and whoever plays best over a Test match is more than likely to win.”

England has only made one change to the team that beat India in the postponed fifth Test at Edgbaston last month. In place of stand-in wicketkeeper Sam Billings, England has brought back wicketkeeper Ben Foakes after he got Covid-19.

“It was definitely quite an easy decision based on our previous four performances,” said Stokes.

“Foakesy is the best wicketkeeper in the world. To have world-class quality behind the stumps is almost like a pillow, knowing that you’ve got someone with his skill level behind there.”

James Anderson, who is 40 years old and has taken more wickets in Tests than anyone else in history, will again lead England’s attack.

“That’s phenomenal. He’s got the label ‘The freak’, to be able to do what he does at that age,” Stokes said.

“I was shouting at him at fielding the other day, like shouting ’40’ at him and he didn’t really like it. But I think he’s an unbelievable ambassador for the game and also an ambassador for fast bowlers in the future — for them to look at someone at 40, to say he is still one of the best in the world.”

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