South Africa vow to conquer ‘Bazball’ but Stokes calm over clash of styles


outh Africa captain Dean Elgar has reiterated his belief that England’s style of play – dubbed ‘Bazball’ – could leave them “not looking very good”, after his counterpart Ben Stokes vowed to leave the talking to their opponents.

Elgar has made headlines in recent weeks with comments about the new approach that saw England win four successive wins over New Zealand and India earlier this summer.

Ahead of Wednesday’s First Test between England and South Africa at Lord’s, Elgar began his press conference by stating that he did not want to “entertain” ‘Bazball’ again.

“Mud-slinging is now a thing of the past for me,” he added.

But when asked about England Lions’ innings victory over South Africa in a four-day warm-up match last week, Elgar questioned the Lions’ approach, which saw them score at 5.74 an over, with Brendon McCullum – the man who inspired a change in attitude in the home dressing room.

“It was a good exercise and if they come out playing like that in an official Test match and it goes pear shaped, that will not look very good for England,” said Elgar of the Lions match.

Elgar added that he felt the Lions were looking to put on a show in front of McCullum and Rob Key, England’s managing director, and that they would have played differently had the match been first-class. It was scheduled to be first-class, but South Africa requested it lose that status so they could use more than 11 players.

“It was a good indicator but I think those guys playing for the Lions team had a lot to prove,” he stated. “They had all the big guys sitting upstairs watching them and they were like, ‘Now it is our turn to show the coaches and director what we can do’, in an unofficial four-day game.

“I would have liked to have seen what it was like if it was an official four-day game. I think you play a little bit different if you are playing for stats, you play a little differently as a player.”

England have distanced themselves from the term ‘Bazball’, which was coined by a journalist.

Ben Stokes played down England’s change of style ahead of the Test

/ PA

“The opposition seem to be doing a lot of talking at the moment about it,” said Stokes. “We don’t really speak about it that much. We just concentrate on what we do. 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, whoever plays best over a Test match is more than likely to win. But we don’t dive into it too much, but happy for Dean and the South African team to keep saying they’re not interested but then also keep talking about it.”

Stokes confirmed that England will make just one change to their team, with Ben Foakes back from Covid to replace Ben Foakes behind the stumps.

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