England clock runs per over on day one

Pakistan are also involved.

638 times a team has made over 500 in a Test.

And most of them are near each other in terms of runs per over. After the 1950s, Test batting rates never really changed that much. Occasionally someone would bat faster in an innings, but even as the bats got bigger, and the batters got stronger, things did not change that much. And then you have this last innings by England -which is in any and every way a complete outlier in the history of cricket.

Test runs per over was not trending this way at all. Then England did this.

England had 13 leaves today. Australia had 158 yesterday. Intent has become a dirty buzzword in cricket of recent times. It used to be called attacking cricket.

England went well beyond intent or attacking. This was one of the most aggressive days - if not the most - ever we have seen in Test cricket. Because other than a leave on ball one, England went at Pakistan from beginning to end. This was even more aggressive than anything we have seen in the Bazball era.

Now, there were some big hairy caveats out there. After Babar Azam said he thought this would be a better pitch than when Australia toured, on day one alone, it would appear to be as flat as a wicket can be. It felt like if you fired a ballistic warhead at this pitch at the other end, you’d get a cup of coffee with a cooked breakfast.

So it was a flat pitch, sure. We have seen them before, and this still our first 500 runs on day one. So what else helped? Well Pakistan picked an incredibly untested attack.

If they thought the wicket would have something in it, this still would have been a risk. But on this surface, they were thrown in there and looked out of ideas. The seamers never went for cutters, 8-1 fields or low arm balls. Not sure any of that would have worked, but somewhere around the 400 runs just after tea, I reckon you have try it.

England clearly decided to sweep a lot, yet it took forever for the Pakistan spinners to slow the ball down. By then England had swept 16% of the balls bowled to them. Almost four times what you would normally seen.

Pakistan were also a bit weird with their fields.

Like here is Harry Brook’s wagon wheel.

He kinda kept hitting his boundaries at two parts of the ground. I feel like on a day like this, just having someone on that boundary all the time is ok. Ofcourse a few of these were off a low-use part-timer who might have already bowled his last over in Test cricket.

But, even when you weigh up the pitch, the bowlers and some of the fielding decisions, this was beszerk from England. There are no caveats I can give you that explain away how England suddenly scored a run an over quicker than any team with 400 runs in a Test.

When they started quick, I understood that. Australia would often score very fast in the first session with players like Michael Slater, Justin Langer and Matt Hayden up top. But they would pull back. In fact often they wouldn’t score that many runs in a day. They psychological damage was done. They were still considered a fast scoring team.

These are all the innings where Australia made over 400 runs during their run from 95-2010 and England today. They only scored over five runs an over once in that period. This isn’t like what Australia did; this is unlike anything we have seen.

England don’t stop. Even when they are accumulating, it is in the style of their ODI play. There is no rest, no boring middle overs, and no downtime if you are a bowler. And so what they are capable of is run rates around six and seven. No one else is touching that.

What I found more interesting was tactics partly inspired this. England know this is probably a four-day Test due to the light conditions, and there was no real reason to pull back. But to continually hit this well for a whole day, well, it just doesn’t happen. And they still have a few more hits in them.

There have been 1586 scores over 400 in Test cricket. 1573 of them were scored at five runs an over or slower. One was scored at over a run a ball. It’s just remarkable what we are seeing right now.

We know enough about Bazball now to understand that it probably works better when the ball or pitch isn’t helping. That is easy to understand. But what England are doing when it does is still something our game hasn’t seen.

We are seeing the weirdest flare-up that will crash spectacularly or a new way of playing our sport. And the good news is, both of those things are fun.