Pakistan v England: How England Are Taking Over Test Match Cricket

If the summer of 2022 was an exciting baptism, the opening day of England’s tour of Pakistan marked the pinnacle of the side’s BazBall revolution. The Three Lions’ first tour of the country for seventeen years, we were expecting some serious fireworks; however, the manner in which Ben Stokes’ side went about their business was unlike anything the Test arena had ever seen before. Join us here at SinkorSwimSports as we run you through Pak v Eng day one, and how the visitors are changing the face of Test matches under their new leadership. 

Harry Brook vs Pakistan 2022
Harry Brook hit six fours in one over on his way to 101* during Pak v Eng day one

A Record-Breaking Day

England had kickstarted their new era in the Whites with a new swashbuckling brand of cricket that saw series wins over New Zealand and South Africa, as well as a one-off win over India. 

But their preparations for a first Test in Pakistan since 2005 were dealt a seriously unhelpful blow as huge sways of the team were taken ill. In fact, England were only able to name a fully fit side two hours before play was scheduled to start.

From the outset though, things looked ominous for the hosts from the opening over of the day, with openers Zak Crawley and Ben Duckett smashing fourteen from it. There had been question marks over whether the magic of the summer would prove to be a blip in unfamiliar surroundings, a gap apart from one another and without the backing of a home crowd roaring every boundary. England quickly put those naysayers to bed with one of the most destructive batting displays the game has ever seen. 

Four centurions on the day, England would close out day one of the 1st match against Pakistan 506/4, the most runs scored by any side on the opening day of a Test. And the Three Lions were restricted to just 75 overs, had they batted for the full 90 allocated, their run rate of 6.74 per over would have seen Stokes and co. finish on 607. 

For context, Australia required 152.4 overs to reach 598/4 dec. in their match against the West Indies in Perth

Here’s a quick list of some of the records England broke during the 1st Test against Pakistan: 

  • Fastest Century by a Test Match Opener (Zak Crawley, 86 balls) 
  • Most Runs Scored on the First Day of a Test (506) 
  • Four Centuries Scored On The Opening Day of a Test for the First Time 
  • Most Runs Scored in The Opening Session of a Test (174)
  • Fastest Double-Century Stand in Test Match History 
  • Third-Fastest Test Century For England (Harry Brook, 86 balls) 

The Rule-Breakers 

There’s a certain snobbery that can sometimes hang over the longest form of the game. Certain voices talk about a supposed ‘way’ of playing a Test match, usually consisting of openers grilling away for a morning seeing off the shine of the new ball, before the middle-order attempt to try and up the ante. 

Suffice to say, Ben Stokes and Brendon McCullum have tossed away that particular rulebook. By giving their players the freedom to push the boundaries on what is possible at the crease without the fear of being punished if they fail, the pair have finally been able to unlock the talent possessed by the likes of Crawley, Brook and Ollie Pope, all of whom hit centuries on day one against Pakistan. 

Speaking prior to the match, Stokes claimed: 

“We don’t feel like we want to be held back by the narrative of how Test cricket needs to be played. We’re in an era now with English cricket, with myself and Brendon McCullum leading the red-ball cricket, trying to let spectators view the game in a different way.”

English cricket is seemingly knocking off records with every innings, and this new approach has clearly curated a dressing room that those on the fringes in the County Championship want to be a part of. 

As ex-skipper Joe Root put it: 

“Smack it, score fast and take wickets. Pretty simple.”

And, so far, England are certainly walking the walk as well as talking the talk.