England didn't invent attacking cricket

Plus thoughts on Yorkshire's 'huge' penalty for racism.

There seems to be some confusion regarding Bazball; people think someone has done this before. When I bring it up, a comment or reply will say, this isn't new; Sehwag did this, the Australians bazballed, or Viv Richards whacked the ball everywhere.

None of these is bazball, and no one says they invented attacking cricket.

In Tests, the OG of attacking was Victor Trumper. We don't have his full ball-by-ball record publicly, but from the 1400 or so balls we have, you can see he was fast at the back end of his career. He made hundreds better than running a ball regularly. In back-to-back innings against South Africa, he made 159 from 158, and then 214 from 247.

He is on the all-time strike rate list of players with more than 1000 recorded balls and 3000 runs. Chances are Trumper was even quicker, and there are plenty of stories about him repeatedly destroying bowlers. He certainly sticks out for his era. As do the three occasions he made a hundred in a session.

Of course, he sticks out now. He still has the ninth-quickest strike rate ever. If you want some modern comps, the batter just on top of him is Viv Richards, and the one below is Tillakeratne Dilshan. He was insane.

And in the same era was Gilbert Jessop. Who wasn't the batter that Trumper was, but gave the ball a heave when he was out there? You will now remember him as the guy mentioned once at a Test when an England player gets on a roll. But so far, Jessop's attacking play has stood up to Bazball, and he still holds the record for their fastest hundred.

And there are plenty of all-rounders like Jessop through the game that gave the ball a whack. If you take a second look at this, Botham is on it three times.

If you look at the strike rate list, you will also find Kapil Dev way above the others. Of course, Keith Miller was another player who attacked hard.

Learie Constantine didn't play many Tests but he certainly fits into this category. He played against Middlesex in a game where in the first innings, he made 86 in less than an hour, and then he made 103 in an hour in the second innings. He also chipped in with a seven-for in between.

Garfield Sobers was another of this sort; it was just carnage when he attacked. Malcolm Nash became world famous because of this spell. If one over can be a spell.

We need to mention Viv Richards here; he sits above his era so nicely. A player who made many runs and scored at a stupid rate. He was probably the first to combine average and strike rate.

This is him just compared to players in his era. And there is no way to include the swagger or power. His runs made such an impact just because you were terrified of what he could do.

Then you get Sehwag; the fastest batter in Test history. His ability to score quick in red-ball cricket was unmatched. Because of it, we probably underestimated how good he was in limited overs.

Also, right next to him is Gilchrist. But he is really the more interesting one, as Sehwag was attacking on his own. Gilchrist did it as part of a team plan.

So let's look at that. Australia were an average-scoring team in Test cricket, and then, with Gilchrist's help and a plan to stop teams getting draws, they upped their scoring rate. Nine years in a row, they were quicker than average, but really you can see they were a long way faster than everyone at this point.

They were half a run over quicker than any other team and a run quicker than the slowest. This was a huge change. It would be hard to see this as anything small.

But Gilchrist was the only player with a strike rate over 65, and the next best was Shane Warne. Clearly, Australia had all their batters in the first half, so they had more intent, but it's not that dramatic. Even if it felt like it at the time.

So now let us compare that to England's recent rise. Which is not for as long. Can you spot the difference? This isn't even fair to them, as they didn't play all of 2022 in this style. But even then, you can see how much more dramatic this is than Australia.

This is the strike rate in the Bazball era; this is nothing like what Australia did. They hit early boundaries against aggressive fields, had one incredible hitter and pushed hard with running between the wicket. England are reverse scooping over slips cordons.

They are 1.3 runs an over quicker than number two in Australia. And they are almost two clear runs of the West Indies at the bottom. This isn't your mother's attacking cricket.

These are the only times in Test history a team has scored at more than five runs an over in a Test match while making 300 runs. England have made seven of them in the last 14 months. In their seven-year run smashing everyone, Australia managed five runs an over once against Zimbabwe.

This is not Trumper, an all-rounder having some fun, Viv, Viru or even the Australians. This is something completely new. Inspired by Brendon McCullum and England's white ball cricket. We are already seeing it bleed into India, Pakistan and Bangladesh. Others will follow soon as well.

Oh, and do you know what innings is not on the first list I showed you, the one from today? They were only at 4.86 runs per over. This was only the 34th quickest innings in Tests. It was their ninth fastest since Bazball. It was pedestrian by their own standards. Barely worthy of mention. Hardly any fancy scoops. No one almost broke Jessop's record.

England is now attacking so much that it just feels like a normal innings from them, and it would be the 34th quickest innings in Tests for anyone else.

Going this hard, on masse, yeah, this is new. There was no team of Sehwags out there. Steve Waugh was nudging ones off his hips for the Aussies. No one has ever done this before. And I get it if you think, well, we don't want to credit England with anything cool or interesting. But this is like nothing we have ever seen.

This is the most disruptive strategy in our game since the West Indies picked four fast men. No one has done this before. Today they destroyed Australia in fourth gear. There is no confusion. They did not invent attacking cricket; they're getting pretty close to perfecting it, though.

So the ECB has finally given sanctions to Yorkshire over the racism scandal. They have been fined 400K and lost points from the championship and the Blast. OK.

But wait, because the details are weird as well. Yorkshire have been deducted 4 points from the Blast. And look, even I can't remember when all the T20 tournaments in the world are being played. But I am pretty sure the Blast is over, and Yorkshire did not win it.

So, um, taking four points off them seems like it doesn't matter at all.

They could have taken points off them for the One Day Cup which is yet to start. But maybe they didn't want to as they are already last in that.

They also took 48 points from Yorkshire's Division Two County bid. Here they were sixth but with a chance of lucking their way through. However, they have won a single match of their ten in the championship so far.

So the thought they were about to come home with a flurry and get promoted seems pretty far-fetched.

What about the money? 400K is a lot. But wait, it is actually 100K, and 300K suspended. I assume the other 300K goes to the ECB if Yorkshire do another racism in the next two years.

For "the mishandling of Rafiq's case", "the deletion and destruction of data", "not taking action relating to racist behaviour" and "the systemic use of racist language over a prolonged period" they were fined 100K, lost 4 ghost points and will not get promoted either way.

Points deductions happen a lot in county cricket; Somerset lost 12 points for a pitch a few years back. (Penalising your only spinning deck is an interesting call, to begin with.)

In 2017, Leicestershire lost 16 points when Charlie Shreck swore on the field. It was a combination of a few smaller incidents like that.

This isn't even the only 48-point penalty. That is what Durham were fined when heading towards bankruptcy in 2016. They also got relegated, so they had a much harsher penalty. All their points came off future games, not series they had already lost.

Compared to Durham, Yorkshire's is like being hit by a stick of Rhubarb instead of a bat. But that Durham penalty is now considered a massive overreaction.

But it's not the only point deduction Durham have had. Last year they had a ten-point deduction because Nic Maddinson was using an oversized bat.

So Yorkshire's penalty is 100K, and the equivalent of two batters swearing while using illegal bats on a bad pitch. The people who have to print out the Blast points table are more penalised than Yorkshire Cricket Club for their long-term systemic racism.