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England launch Bazball in India without Broad-band

England’s tour of India is the story that keeps on giving and the cricket hasn’t even started yet.

Although Ben Stokes has been playing on one good leg for longer than physically possible for mere mortals (and in more flamboyant style than Steve Waugh’s Captain Hook century at the Oval in 2001)  he is “good to go”.

After successful surgery at the end of last year, England’s skipper has thrown away the crutches and will now be charging around like a thoroughbred so we are told.

"He looks like a greyhound. He's put the work in, everyone knows his work ethic is phenomenal," said coach Brendon McCullum.

That’s a relief because the series is two good men down already with the withdrawal of Harry Brook for an unspecified time and Virat Kohli for the first two Tests.

Both cited personal reasons. It is a stark reminder that cricketers are actual human beings with life and work stresses to balance.

The dark side of social media doesn’t seem to comprehend such a thing, but at least we have moved on from the days when players were frowned upon for “cherry picking” tours or avoiding danger spots for family reasons.

There is a life outside a cricket bubble and if it takes away some A-list stars then so be it.

Meanwhile, Ben Duckett’s defence of the Stokes realm will surely see him promoted to vice lieutenant and official PR spokesperson for Bazball.

Duckett dismissed suggestions that the squad should have turned up earlier, citing that endless hotel life was not on his list of things to do before you’re 40.

“India can be a really tough place to tour, everyone knows that. The mental side of the game is just as important and I don’t think there’s too many complaints from that squad who are having 10 days in Abu Dhabi rather than 10 days stuck in a hotel,” he told Sky Sports Podcast.

It’s fair dinkum although the opener might have passed the time shadow batting and leaving the occasional ball within the confines of his suite. Instead, he informed Sky  that the team are “hitting thousands of balls.” Is that a good thing?

Time will tell. Test matches are now having so many lost weekends through early finishes, they will have to start booking exhibition matches to fill the space.

Duckett insists that he has ten different sweep shots either side of the wicket to combat the expected spin web that the hosts possess.

The two Ravis, Jadeja, and Ashwin, together with Kuldeep Yadav and Axar Patel will be chomping at the bit to test that theory. Rehman Ahmed and Jack Leach won’t strike the same fear into the opposition, but they must stick to their own gameplan.

The positive wall of noise that reverberates through the England camp certainly keeps everyone engaged. If you are Steve Harmison, you might even be enraged.

McStokes don’t give a fig roll about what the outside world thinks. There will be no backward steps, but the sledging is lightweight without the Stuart Broad range of tricks.

His aura, bail-switching and headband will be sorely missed, especially if 41-year-old straight man Jimmy Anderson begins to feel his age in the heat and dust.

The Burnley Express only took five wickets in the Ashes series. Ollie Robinson is not immune from breaking down either. For the seamers, it will be short and hopefully sharp spells. Broady, have you gone too soon, son? He was only 37.

Fitting into the Bazball way of life feels a little bit like throwing way any cautious sense of self.  It’s almost a life philosophy in itself.

McCullum wants his charges to enjoy life, not just see it through the prism of the little red ball. If they can keep it light and challenge the rather dubious Indian order that got bowled out in the shortest Test ever, then who knows.

England will need to be on their A game. Any doubts or fissures from those involved in the failed World Cup expedition could resurface.

Then again, that was Mottball (or Mothballs) rather than Bazball. McCullum never wanted the “cosy” ODI gig anyway. Judging by what happened in October, he was dead right.

The tracks of England’s tears will hopefully not be spilt should a Crawley charge and a Duckett sweep backfire and expose a Brook-less top order.

A fast forward run rate of more than five via the attack dog modes of Root, Bairstow and Pope will need to churn for at least 60 or 70 overs. Who’s for staying in? Stokes is the one who can build an innings without getting wound up.

England fans will hope that he doesn’t look like a retired greyhound when it’s all over…...

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