Resilient Australia deflate England's Bazball but Ben Stokes defiant

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Resilient Australia deflate England's Bazball but Ben Stokes defiant
Stokes was left deflated by Australia
Stokes was left deflated by Australia
Reuters
In the end England's audacious 'Bazball' flamboyance was trumped by some true Australian grit after five days of cut-and-thrust Ashes cricket that was as addictive as anything seen before.

England captain Ben Stokes had kept faith with the free-wheeling style of cricket concocted by Brendon McCullum, which had delivered 11 wins from 13 tests.

And for much of an enthralling encounter at Edgbaston, it worked a treat, with Australia at times seemingly bamboozled by the curve balls continually thrown their way.

Stokes ripped up the textbook with his field placings and gave his batters licence to express themselves, none more so than Joe Root whose reverse ramps lit up a frenetic day four which ended with some orthodox Stuart Broad seam magic.

Yet, when the dust has settled on a match resembling a glossy show-reel for the five-day format, Australia's often cautious approach prevailed thanks to a match-winning 55-run ninth-wicket partnership between Pat Cummins and Nathan Lyon at a spellbound Edgbaston late on Tuesday.

Lyon and Cummins were the heroes
Reuters

It would be churlish to question England's tactics, whether it be Stokes' decision to declare their first innings on 393-8 near the end of a barnstorming first day, or some of the dismissals on Monday as they batted with joyous abandon.

The first ball of the match on Friday was speared to the boundary by Zak Crawley and England's master batsman Root began Monday's action trying a reverse scoop despite his side precariously placed on 28-2, just 35 ahead.

He repeated the shot to hit Scott Boland for a four and a six in consecutive balls and was eventually dismissed via a stumping for the first time in his 131 tests, charging down the track to try and blast Lyon into the stands.

In days gone by such a reckless approach would have been frowned upon, but in the world of 'Bazball' it is the way the cookie crumbles. You win some, you lose some.

Inevitably, with Australia winning by such a narrow margin, the fact that the visitors did not have to bowl England out twice to win a test match will be analysed to death.

But despite going 1-0 down in the series and putting a dent on England's hopes of winning back the Ashes urn, Stokes insists he will not have it any other way, which should be music to the ears of fans of test cricket.

"Everyone would have been on the edge of their seat here and everyone at home will have been glued to their TV. That's what we want to be remembered as a team," Stokes said.

Stokes speaks with Cummins after the match
Reuters

"That's the thing about not being a results-driven team. We stuck to our ethos and did not get side-tracked by the whole arena of the Ashes... it would have been easy to play it a bit safer but we didn't do that, not one individual.

"That's something I'm very proud of."

Asked about his decision to declare on Friday to enable his bowlers a late crack at Australia's top order, Stokes said it had sent out a statement of intent.

"Scoring 390 and then being able to declare sends a message to Australia about how we want to take them on," he said.

"We've managed to stand up to Australia and being in control for most of it makes it hurt a little bit more that we've lost but there are four more games left."

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