It was wild arrogance on part of England to declare on 393, says ex-Aussie cricketer

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Former Australian pace bowler Brett Geeves believes England’s ultra-aggressive approach is likely to backfire during the Ashes, adding that the declaration on day one of the first Test at Edgbaston was a sign of “wild arrogance” on the part of Ben Stokes’ side.

England had declared their first innings on 393 for eight despite Joe Root batting on an unbeaten 118, and the home side could have easily scored a few more, which could have given them a psychological advantage.

The decision to declare was criticised by several experts and Australia went on to win the thrilling Test by two wickets.

Geeves, who has played one ODI and two T20Is for Australia and has been a successful first-class bowler, said ‘Bazball’ — the term coined for England’s overly aggressive and result-oriented style of play — is unlikely to work against Australia.

“It (Bazball) sets them (England) up to fail and to me it kind of feels like ‘even if we lose we’re playing the best cricket and we have won anyway,” Geeves told Sen Radio on Saturday.

“That’s not how it works. Particularly against Australia in the Ashes,” opined the 41-year-old.

He said it was “disrespectful” on the part of England coach Brendon McCullum to tell his players that he was proud of them despite the defeat. Geeves opined, the coach was undermining the efforts of the Australians by saying this.

“There was (an) article that I was reading that quotes Brendon McCullum in terms of their loss, they’re in the changer rooms and Brendon spoke first and he says; ‘Lads, I am immensely proud of the effort you put in. We have made the game what it was. We were so close to pulling off an unbelievable victory. We played all the cricket in the game. If it wasn’t for us the Australians wouldn’t have even had a chance to win’.”

“It is just a really disrespectful approach to the performances of Pat Cummins and the performance of the run chase and their ability to hold England to 276 in the best batting conditions of the game.”

Australia skipper Cummins scored an unbeaten 44 and partner Nathan Lyon struck 16 not out, when the chips were down, to take the visitors to the winning target of 282 set by England.

Geeves indicated Australia have a few tricks up their sleeve and they will continue to improve as the five-Test series progresses.

“Australia’s still got some improvement. They’ll get a little bit more out of their batting list as the series progresses and strategically if they can get their mindset right from a fielding and strategy standpoint, I think they are going to do very well.

“In particular if England have this mindset of wild arrogance and that’s what that declaration was. It was wildly arrogant to think that (8/393) was enough in the first innings on a very flat wicket.

“And yes, absolutely, they (Australia) won the game on the back of the English’s ridiculously dumb declaration. There is no doubt that England played a part in their win.”

He said that had England not declared and scored another 50-60 runs, they could have batted Australia out of the contest.

“They (England) could have come back the next day and tried to bat for another 50 or 60 runs which would have batted Australia out of the game, only one team would have been able to win the game had they made 450 or 460 and that was England,” he said.

“It’s because of the arrogance surrounding their approach to the game. 8/393 declared, you don’t do that in Test match cricket. You don’t do that across a five-day game when Joe Root is 118 not out.”

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