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England ‘pioneers’ Stokes and McCullum are changing Test cricket, says Collingwood

 


England’s bold statement on the fourth day of their first Test with Pakistan shows how Ben Stokes and Brendon McCullum are “pioneers”, says Paul Collingwood.

The captain and head coach’s aggressive approach to red-ball cricket has been rewarded with quick runs at their encounter in Rawalpindi as they look for victory in their first extended visit since 2005.

After knocking out their hosts for 579, they earned a 78 lead in the first innings, a rampant 264-7 followed by an early statement at tea set Pakistan a viable 343 in the chase.

England reduced their opponents to 80-2 at the end of the game, heading into the final day, but their swing-for-the-fences approach continues to delight many, including assistant coach Collingwood.

“Sometimes I think it’s crazy in a good way,” Collingwood said. “I know I would never have come up with some of Ben and Baz’s ideas [McCullum] think, but it’s great to see. It goes against convention.

“If it comes off, it’s genius. If it doesn’t come off, so be it. The bigger picture of what Baz McCullum and Ben Stokes are doing is that Test cricket is entertaining.

“It feels like they’ve been pioneers in the way they play the game. You have two guys who are willing to risk everything to make sure this game survives.

“It’s great to see. If you play the game right and put yourself in the right position to win the test match, there’s no shame in losing a cricket match.

“If Pakistan knocks out the runs tomorrow, they deserve the win. It’s very even. It’s up to us to come out with a lot of energy tomorrow, and if we get some early wickets we’ll be ahead of the game.”

Stokes, who succeeded Joe Root as skipper earlier this year, has forged an exciting partnership with former New Zealand captain McCullum since taking over the reins.

Their run rate of 6.73 per over in Rawalpindi is the fastest ever achieved by a Test team batting twice in a game.

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