No fancy 'Bazball' names for Proteas' brand of cricket: 'It's about being smart'

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  • The Proteas aren't in the business for a fancy name for their brand of cricket, especially in light of facing England's aggressive "Bazball".
  • Instead, the leaders in the ICC's World Test Championship merely hope to keep on playing a "nice" style of play and find adaptable ways of caging their opponents.
  • Coach Mark Boucher pointed out that their fielding in particular will be vital in keeping England in check.

As the English cricket public raves over the "Bazball" their national team is playing in Test cricket, the Proteas have been going about their business relatively quietly.

Keeping things low-key has, to date, worked well for Mark Boucher and his troops, evidenced by the fact that they're sitting pretty at the summit of the ICC World Test Championship table.

There's clearly little need to emulate England's extravagant, aggressive yet hugely exciting brand of cricket in the red-ball format, which is named after their new coach Brendon 'Baz' McCullum.

"I don't think we've given our style of play a name. I know they have a name for [theirs] over here," Boucher said with a wry smile, ahead of the first of three Tests starting on Wednesday at Lord's.    

"We believe that we play a nice brand of cricket. We've had some tight series where we came out on top and nothing has really changed for us. We have processes that we go through to try and get results going our way.

"I've always said that you need to be smart. We want to play aggressive cricket, but you have be smart about it. Nothing will change for us. There's always a lot of hype when it comes to England v South Africa, but in the end it's a game between bat and ball.

"It's about making smart decisions at various stages of the game. We are focused on doing that."

READ | Kagiso Rabada's involvement in first Test might have to be a leap of faith for Proteas

That's not to say Boucher is summarily dismissing what his opponents are trying to achieve.

"I was asked previously what I think about the way England play their cricket and I said that I watched it on TV and it's quite exciting.

"It's an exciting way of playing. You need a few things that encourage you to play in that manner, the conditions, the players, which they believe are the guys to pull it off," said the Proteas mentor.

"In the end though, it's just talk. Come Wednesday, it's about bat and ball."

By extension, the nature of such an aggressive approach means that South Africa can't rely too much on certain set plays to cage their hosts.

It's all about adaptability.

Boucher cited fielding as perhaps the most vital discipline to get right, unsurprising given how New Zealand could've gotten a lot closer in their series against the English if they'd held on to all their catches.

"We don't know what conditions will be on a given day, how it will be under foot. It's just about finding ways to stop them if the momentum is on their side," he said.

"Our fielding is going to be important. As we've seen in the recent past, if you're going to get opportunities, you have to grab them.

"That's just a key principle in general, especially since the advent of T20 cricket because batters can now hit the ball in all areas. They're brave enough to take the game on.

"You have to hang on to your chances. We'll be putting a lot of emphasis on that."

First ball will be bowled at 12:00 on Wednesday.     

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