Ben Stokes convinced England to play a cricket game they haven't tried yet at test level. Photo: Action Images via Reuters/Andrew. Boyers
England will try to beat Ireland in two days this week. Previous generations would have taken the game as a chance to spend some time in the middle or put a few overs in their feet, but not this team.
They will just try to win as quickly as possible. Gilbert Jessop's 120-year record in England's fastest 100 Tests could be in jeopardy again. England will put pressure on the Irish bowlers from the first ball. When the spinner comes in, they will try to hit it.
In bowling, they use four or five misses and try to knock them out in 40-50 overs.
This is the England team speaking a different language from anyone else.
I think that if you knock out a couple of girls or two out of 25 balls, the rest of the team will think: “What is that he is up to?” They just have a cool, almost Saturday afternoon club cricket mentality where they have a bit of fun and challenge each other to be as aggressive as possible.
Let's just say, I don't think any of of them will come to Lord and plans to score a test hundred out of 170 balls.
However, I think Zach Crowley needs a score and he needs to be given permission to step back from the general batting for free to be a little selfish.
He doesn't need noise to be everything. about going to Edgbaston for the first ash test later next month. The only way to silence him is to score a hundred, so if it takes 170 points, do it.
He needs to think about himself. England will win the Test match, no question, but sometimes as a player you have to look inward and be a little selfish. Talk of Ben Stokes opening up instead of him may not have been too big before they chose this team, but if Crowley keeps failing, there might be something in it.
England can only have five bowlers if he is able to do his part with the ball. If he's not healthy enough, they need Chris Woakes, which means Stokes will have to climb to the top of the rankings.
If Stokes can't play in Birmingham against Australia, then don't wait for Edgbaston to make a substitution and lift him up , to open. Do it this week.
If Crowley gets a chance to start the game, he should score and, let's be honest, he could very well only get one hit against Ireland. If it means seeing off a new ball, playing for its remaining stump, and not dancing and hitting it five or six times, then he should go ahead and do it.
There aren't many players in the history of Ashes cricket , who entered the series against Australia and their place was questioned and they were successful. The pressure builds up and can become unbearable.
So the only team Crowley has to think about is Zak Crawley plc. England will say they support him, but let's see if they lose the first Test at Edgbaston.
It's easy to support someone when you win so many games, but even harder if you losing .
We live in a different era of the game and generally players don't have much to prepare for a test series, but I would say the Aussies could do a little more to warm up for the Ashes than just test championship final against India.
England will be well prepared because many players have played district cricket. An important feature of this series of Ashes is that preparations have started earlier than usual because everyone can feel the excitement around this England team. Watching them play against any team is very interesting because they play such a big game.
Big deal Ben and Baz (head coach Brandon McCallum) made England the most exciting test team ever. I'm not saying this to make a headline. I sincerely believe this because they are trying to play cricket that no one has tried before. You know, when England take the field, they will be a pleasure to watch.
With bat in hand, they will take risks and score five, six or seven points if they can. With the ball in hand, they will lay out fun fields, throw a new ball at the stumps and go for the wickets all day.
I loved hearing Stuart Broad say he wants Australia to play our way. How many years have we been saying that we want England to play the Australian way and be more exciting?
How many years have people been saying that Broad and James Anderson should play fuller, not to the point? It's great that Anderson says Stokes is the best captain he's played under because it shows he's given him the freedom to enjoy the game in a more aggressive way. Stokes convinced these two legends to play in such an expansive way and play with a lot of aggression, making four or five misses at a time. Imagine if Joe Root or Alastair Cook asked them to do this? They may not have been dealt with.
One of Stokes' strengths is that he is very persuasive and stubborn in his methods. You either do it your way or you're out. I don't think every country will buy into this, but it would be great if they did.
Whether we like it or not, Test cricket is now second only to Twenty20, so it should be played with style and panache.