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India v England 2024

‘Heard of Hayden, Ponting?’ – Michael Clarke hits out at Ben Duckett for crediting Bazball for aggressive Test batting

Michael Clarke has hit out at Ben Duckett over Bazball comments | IND vs ENG
by Wisden Staff 2 minute read

Former Australia captain Michael Clarke has shot down Ben Duckett‘s claim that England’s Bazball approach has been the reason teams have been batting aggressively in Tests, reminding him of the great Australian Test team of the 1990s and 2000s.

Speaking at the end of day three of the Rajkot Test, which England lost by a record margin of 434 runs, Duckett had praised Yashasvi Jaiswal for his enterprising century, but also said that the current England team should be taking credit for teams batting more aggressively in Tests.

“When you see players from the opposition playing like that, it almost feels like we [England] should take some credit that they’re playing differently than how other people play Test cricket,” Duckett said in Rajkot. “We saw it a bit in the summer and it’s quite exciting to to see other players and other teams are also playing that aggressive style of cricket.”

Responding to his claims on ESPN Australia’s Around The Wicket, Clarke said that Australian team of yesteryear indulged in aggressive Test cricket much before Duckett and England started to.

“He must have missed Australia for 20 years,” Clarke said. “As a youngster, he must not know what Test cricket Australia played. Has he heard of Matthew Hayden, Michael Slater, Ricky Ponting, Damien Martyn, Adam Gilchrist? These guys used to smack it as good as everyone.

“Because you play a reverse sweep or a switch hit or a ramp shot, that doesn’t mean you are batting aggressively either.

“Matthew Hayden just walked down the wicket and hit you straight over your head for a six. He didn’t have to play a ramp or a switch hit.

Clarke is of the opinion that the modern game is only seeing different shots because of T20 cricket, but not necessarily more aggression than teams of the past.

“I don’t know… Look, I love the way they are playing, I love aggressive, positive cricket in any format. And now, because of T20 cricket, we are seeing different shots, we are seeing players play the full 360 in all three formats. You didn’t see that as much in Test cricket.”

“If somebody bowled a bouncer, 90 per cent you’d see a hook shot or a pull shot. Ten percent you would see it someone ramp it over slips. You are seeing different shots, but you are not seeing more aggression or more positivity.

“I can tell you a number of innings where I was lucky enough to bat with the superstars, and once they got to 20/30/40, mate, if they wanted to, they could have gone 7/10/15 runs an over, whatever they wanted to.

“It was about building an innings to get the team into a position. Finding a bowler you found most comfortable with and taking it to him. Hayden, the way he swept Harbhajan Singh through the 2001 Test series – so aggressive, so positive – but it was a genuine sweep shot, it was not a reverse.”

Clarke went on to commend England for imbibing Bazball, calling it “a really good foundation to play Test cricket”, but also insisted that this team isn’t the first one ever to play aggressively.

“I love the aggressive approach of England. I think it has worked, they are building a really good foundation to play great cricket. They are getting the results they want, they did it in this Test [Rajkot].

“Playing in India is tough: you can sit there and block, you gonna get one with your name on it. You might try a reverse sweep and you might hit it straight to backward point. It’s just the way the game goes.

“I think people need to be realistic and understand, as a batsman, your job is to score runs and there have been plenty of great players and plenty of teams around the world score plenty of runs against good opposition.

“England is not the first team to play aggressive or bat positively.”

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