England’s revamp was characterised by a multitude of changes which saw Rob Key installed as their new managing director, Ben Stokes was handed further responsibility as the new red ball captain, and most notably Brendon McCullum was given his first international coaching role in being named the new red ball head coach.
Rob Key opted to make an unorthodox decision as he begun his new role as managing director and decided to hire a red ball coach and a white ball coach.
Their schedule opened with a three-match series against the reigning world champions, New Zealand, a nation which England had been defeated by in the previous summer.
During the first innings of the summer, England had skittled the tourists for a meagre 132 all out and doing so in just 40 overs. It was simply the start of dreams however they were soon pegged back as England’s poor batting remained as they too were bowled for a low score and replied with a total of 141.
In the second innings England were set a target of 277 to win and at one point were reduced to 69-4. It seemed as though the English were still plagued with a frail batting line up and were heading to another defeat, however a familiar Joe Root century guided England to their first win since August 2021.
The series moved onto Nottingham where a flat Trent Bridge track awaited. Both nations went onto post over 500 runs in their first innings, and with the Kiwi’s still adding runs to their second innings total on Day 4, the game appeared to be heading to a draw.
It was here England showed early signs of their now infamous aggression. The hosts were set to chase 299 and they chased so emphatically by reaching their target in only 50 overs, moreover Jonny Bairstow continued his fine 2022 form after hitting a monstrous 136 (92) to take England over the line.
With the series won, the English looked to whitewash the world champions at Headingley. The aggression from the previous game continued with England whacking 360 off only 67 overs, however the bowling of Jack Leach arguably sealed the tie for England with the left-handed spinner claiming his first ten-wicket haul, and with it England also claimed their first white wash victory under the new ‘bazball’ era.
Edgbaston waited next for the conclusion of the Covid delayed five-match series against India. The Indians proved their dominance and by the end each first innings held a commanding lead of 132 runs. Although England were once again able to rely on Ben Stokes to claw them back through bowling figures of 4-33, leaving them to chase 378. Brutal aggression was the go to tactic again, and it worked a treat with the English chasing their target in under 80 overs.
Bazball was now 4-0-0 and many started to question as whether this approach will make or break England. On the one hand being classed as a risky playing style, it provided a modern and entertaining spin on a form of cricket some thought to be dying.
South Africa were the next nation who sought to spoil the party on England’s so far perfect summer, and they did so successfully in the first test at Lords. With the hosts flying high, they were in essence humbled by a riveting South African bowling attack that secured a win by an innings and 12 runs.
This minor setback did not however hinder McCullum and his men as they triumphed in the second test at Old Trafford, albeit through less aggressive batting. The bowlers stole the headlines with their new attacking trio of James Anderson, Stuart Broad, and Ollie Robinson cleaning up the tourists in style.
England sealed the series at The Oval, a commendable achievement considering the first two days of play had been restricted due to bad weather and the death of Queen Elizabeth II. The match was a low scoring affair as neither side managed to post over 200 runs in each innings, but the English faithful were treated to one more dazzling batting display of the summer with England chasing their second innings target at a run rate of 5.77.
Over the course of the summer, England had transformed the method in which a team can approach Test Cricket.
With critical minds arguing that this form of the game can be classed as outdated and dull, the English have in essence shunned this argument and proved that it is not Test Cricket that needs to change for it to survive, it must be the nation’s themselves.