Positive approach again pays dividends for England
England's unwavering commitment to playing attacking cricket without fear under captain Ben Stokes and coach Brendan McCullum was once again vindicated on Thursday when the hosts took control of the fourth Ashes test against Australia.
Narrow losses in the first two tests had stirred increasing unease among home supporters, particularly as only one side in Ashes history between the sport's two oldest rivals had ever overturned a 2-0 deficit to win a five-test series.
England responded emphatically on the second day under a sunlit sky before an enthusiastic capacity crowd of 22,500 by dismissing Australia for 317 in their first innings, scoring 178 in the second session at 7.12 runs an over, with opener Zak Crawley reaching 189, to close the day with a lead of 67 and six wickets in hand.
Since the New Zealand-born pair of Stokes and McCullum took over last year England, who had won only one of their previous 17 tests under Joe Root, have won 11 out of 13 tests prior to the Ashes.
England had defeated New Zealand, South Africa, India, Pakistan and Ireland with a brand of attacking cricket which has confounded the opposition and delighted their supporters.
Prior to accepting the England job, McCullum had already transformed New Zealand's fortunes after taking over as national captain, taking them to a World Cup 50 overs final for the first time in 2015 and then a drawn series in England during which he and his team's approach were lauded by the British sports writers.
His approach to leadership and coaching reflects his batting on the international stage, which combined lightening reflexes, compact strength and astonishing bat speed to help launch the Indian Premier League with 158 in his first match and then took him to the fastest century in test match history in his final game.
He and Stokes have continually urged their team to play attacking cricket in all conditions and circumstances without fearing failure, an approach endorsed by Crawley who scored faster than a run a ball in his mammoth innings.
"When those bowlers come on it's important to put them under pressure and resting for as a short (a time) as possible," he said. "It's better to put bowlers under pressure and get them before they get me.
"You're encouraged to play how you want to play. Most guys will take it on."