England captain Ben Stokes says they want to draw more fans to Test cricket by entertaining with a bold approach, even if results don’t go their way.
“It (Test cricket) needs to stay around and we’ll do everything we possibly can as a team to keep it alive,” Stokes said on Monday after England outsmarted Pakistan by 74 runs in the first Test on a flat pitch at Pindi Cricket Stadium.
“If you’re brave enough and willing enough to go out and play in that way, even if you lose a game, it’s going to be entertaining.”
The intent to play five-day cricket with a fearless attitude has reaped England seven wins in its last eight Tests since last summer when Brendon McCullum took over as coach and Stokes as captain.
“That’s personally how I think Test cricket should be played,” Stokes said. “Test cricket is something that needs to be looked after. It’s the pinnacle of cricket that everybody wants to play.”
On a similar type of docile pitch in March, only 15 wickets fell in a draw between Pakistan and Australia. But Stokes’ side was audacious from the first ball.
England’s 506 for four on the first day was a Test record. The 921 runs at a rate of 6.73 was the fastest in Test history by any team batting twice. Following a bold declaration at Tea on day four, Pakistan collapsed and was all out in fading light for 268.
The combined 1,768 runs was the third most in Test history, and the highest since 1939. The overall run rate of 4.54 is the highest for any Test of 2,000-plus balls.
England earned only a third win in the country.
“We wanted to come into day five where both results were possible, one of those results not being a draw,” Stokes said.
“The way in which we’ve toiled the whole week alone, just today is absolutely fantastic.”
There was doubt over England’s first Test in Pakistan in 17 years starting on time when several players, including Stokes, were affected by viral infection.
Regular wicketkeeper Ben Foakes couldn’t recover in time and Ollie Pope was handed the keeping gloves at the last minute. England managed to pick 11 fit players two hours before the toss on Thursday.
“The way in which the lads just dealt with it and just cracked on, credit to them,” Stokes said.