Pep Guardiola “loathed” the term tiki-taka. Brendon McCullum has called Bazball “silly”.
The football analogy is not off the mark, for tiki-taka, a coinage of Guardiola’s passing game from the Spanish media, was ahead of its time. Similarly, as England Test captain Ben Stokes had said after his side’s victory over India at Edgbaston, Bazball, a term coined by the British media, has been about attempting to rewrite playing style in the longer format.
The summer has seen England’s rise from the Ashes, under their new Test team coach McCullum. They chased down four 270-plus fourth innings targets on the spin, winning 3-0 against New Zealand and making light work of 378 at Edgbaston. Their ultra-attacking cricket has captured the imagination of fans, but this is what McCullum has to say about Bazball. “I don’t have any idea what Bazball is. It’s not just all crash and burn, if you look at the approach, and that’s why I don’t really like that silly term that people are throwing out there,” he told SEN radio’s WA Breakfast show.
Rewind to 2014, a couple of years after Guardiola had left Barcelona, winning everything for the Catalan giants that club football could offer and wowing fans and pundits alike with his football aestheticism. However, journalist Marti Peranau revealed in his 2014 book, profiling Guardiola’s work, that the great coach hated the term tiki-taka. “I loathe all that passing for the sake of it, all that tiki-taka. It’s so much rubbish and has no purpose. You have to pass the ball with a clear intention, with the aim of making it into the opposition’s goal. It’s not about passing for the sake of it,” Guardiola was quoted as saying in the book.
Coming back to cricket and McCullum, the former Kolkata Knight Riders head coach said: “Because there’s actually quite a bit of thought that goes into how the guys manufacture their performances and when they put pressure on bowlers and which bowlers they put pressure on. There’s also times where they have absorbed pressure beautifully as well.”
He also refused to make a definitive assessment, when show host Adam Gilchrist asked him if England’s high-octane game has “changed the landscape” of Test cricket. “I certainly wouldn’t say that. All we try and do is play a brand of cricket which gives the guys the greatest amount of satisfaction and gives them the best opportunity. We have also got an obligation to entertain,” said McCullum.
The 40-year-old spoke about how Test cricket, and the way it is played, should be in sync with the modern society where time is at a premium. “It’s been a challenging period for those who love the game of Test cricket because society has changed and people don’t necessarily have five days to sit down and watch cricket anymore. So we need to make sure that the product that we have got and the product that we’re taking to the people is worthy of their time and is able to captivate some of those imaginations.”
McCullum added: “So that’s one of the fundamental reasons why the guys are wanting to play this style of cricket and it seems to really resonate with them as well. From my point of view as a coach, it certainly resonates with me because it’s how I like to see the game played, and the same as the skipper.”