England to persist with 'Bazball' despite innings defeat to South Africa in Lord's Test

Proteas win opening match by an innings and 12 runs

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England captain Ben Stokes promised to persist with their new attacking approach to batting in Test cricket despite being handed an innings defeat in the first Test against South Africa at Lord's.

The hosts were dismissed for 149 in their second innings before tea on the third day, with the Proteas effectively winning the game in six sessions after most of Wednesday's first day was lost to rain.

Left-arm spinner Keshav Maharaj struck twice before fast bowler Anrich Nortje followed up with a superb spell of three wickets for no runs in 10 balls as the Proteas took a 1-0 lead in a three-match series.

The Three Lions, coached by Brendon McCullum, have adopted an attacking approach to the Test arena, dubbed "Bazball", and have chased down impressive targets to win against New Zealand and India in the last two months with a swashbuckling batting style.

But they were emphatically thumped by an innings and 12 runs at Lord's as South Africa’s bowlers reigned supreme, restricting England to 165 in their first innings and then dismissing them for 149 on Friday.

Stokes, however, said there would be no change when the second Test starts at Old Trafford next Thursday.

"Absolutely not. You know, I look at captains before me and they were always going to get criticised at times about the way that they wanted to play, and that's just part and parcel of the job.

"We know well that when we perform to the capabilities that we're capable of, then we can go out and put on an incredible performance, like everybody's seen in the four games before.

"This is absolutely not a wake-up call or anything like that. It was just unfortunate we're unable to execute in the way that we want to play this week," said Stokes.

It was only England's fourth innings defeat in 128 years of Test matches at Lord's and the first since a South Africa team led by Graeme Smith enjoyed a similar thumping in 2003.

"It was an off-game for us, and that's absolutely fine," added Stokes.

"It's not something I'm going to be throwing our toys out of the pram over."

South Africa captain Dean Elgar, who had earlier questioned the long-term viability of England's new approach, said he couldn’t believe how quickly the match had finished.

“I didn't wake up this morning thinking I'd be doing a press conference before five o'clock. It was a team effort, there were a few standout performances but everyone had played their part,” Elgar said.

Elgar, a veteran of 77 Tests, made it clear there were still certain non-negotiables in the red-ball game, a point he repeated to the BBC in a separate interview on Friday.

"I'm still a purist when to comes to Test cricket," he insisted. "I don't stuff around with too many styles of play. I think the game demands and kind of deserves it."

Updated: August 20, 2022, 7:02 AM
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