Former captain Michael Vaughan believes that aggression is the answer to England's revamped counter-attacking style of play in Test cricket. Head coach Brendon McCullum and captain Ben Stokes have laid out the blueprint for the way they envision England to play and it has paid off so far.
Testing out 'Bazball' in the home series against New Zealand, England came out winners by a 3-0 margin. The system arguably brings out the best in the likes of Alex Lees and Jonny Bairstow while allowing talisman Joe Root to play his own game.
Noting that opposition teams have to stick with aggressive fields no matter how hard England go with their approach, Michael Vaughan said on Cricbuzz:
"I've watched this England side for four consecutive matches and in each game, they have got the opposition captain to spread the field. Once you spread the field, your good balls are going for singles."
"I think the way to play against this England side is to keep the field up. India spread the field too soon, they were almost fearful."
Jasprit Bumrah reverted to a defensive field once Joe Root and Jonny Bairstow were set at the crease. The decision only gave India one chance, where Hanuma Vihari dropped the wicket-keeper batter at second slip.
Barring that one blip, England coasted to safety, mixing caution with aggression without any hiccups on day four.
"I did not see a 100-run opening partnership coming" - Michael Vaughan on England's fourth innings onslaught
While the England bowlers made easy work of the rest of the Indian batting unit on day four, they were still left to chase 378 in five sessions at Edgbaston. No total in excess of 300 has ever been chased down at the venue.
Alex Lees and Zak Crawley provided the perfect start for the hosts with a dominant 100-run partnership. The duo negated the threat of the new ball and made the most of a pitch that flattened, and with no cloud cover.
Admitting that he did not see England put on 100 runs for the opening wicket, Vaughan said:
"I did not see a 100-run opening partnership coming. I always thought there would be one or two quick wickets. I thought the ball would do a bit more."
The former England captain concluded:
"The ball did not swing at all and the pitch seemed to flatten out. England were not allowing the Indian bowlers to bowl on that length consistently."
England finished day four at 259-3 after 54 overs of play. The Ben Stokes-led side are 119 runs away from a historic victory and will begin the final day with Joe Root and Jonny Bairstow at the crease.