Former captain Geoffrey Boycott has lashed out at Ben Stokes and Co. for getting "carried away with Bazball" and not making winning a priority, adding that England are in danger of reducing the Ashes to an exhibition series.
England, playing an aggressive brand of cricket under coach Brendon McCullum and skipper Stokes, were on the wrong side of the result as they suffered a two-wicket loss in the Ashes opener in Edgbaston earlier this week.
"England is in danger of reducing the Ashes to an exhibition," Boycott wrote in his scathing column for 'The Telegraph'.
"England has got carried away with Bazball and seem to think entertaining is more important than winning. But England supporters want one thing more than anything else -- to win the Ashes." The legendary cricketer said winning is more important than entertaining.
"Scoring fast runs, whacking lots of fours and sixes is lovely. It is great. But only if England does not lose sight of the big prize which is to beat Australia. If at the end of the series Australia go home with the Ashes, we will feel sick, regardless of how much we have been entertained."
Boycott claimed that the much-anticipated Ashes series between the two rivals would lose its importance if England don't play to win. "If England are not playing to win then these Ashes Tests are not that important. They are only exhibition matches. They have got it back to front. It is not about entertaining and then winning. It is about winning first,” he said.
"By all means entertain but cricket is like chess. There are moments when you need to defend. Sometimes you need to be patient and accept it,” Boycott opined.
"Do not just attack, attack, attack. England need a bit of common sense and pragmatism. That is all that is required. They do not have to change being positive because they are a better side than Australia and will win if they just show that common sense," he added.
The former opener felt England were guilty of not capitalising on their chances despite dominating the match.
"England outplayed Australia in nearly every session at Edgbaston but lost. When they are on top, be ruthless and not sloppy. We kept getting ahead of Australia and then letting them back in by being careless.”
"They are in danger of letting hubris be their downfall ... It would be sad if playing exciting cricket for a year is going to their heads. They gave Australia a get-out-of-jail-free card. I find that silly,” Boycott wrote.
Opting to bat, England declared their first innings at 393/8 despite Joe Root batting unbeaten at 118, raising eyebrows.
"The rule is to get as many runs as you can when the pitch is good before it deteriorates. England might have scored another 40-50 runs with Root on a hundred and Ollie Robinson, who can bat, but declared to get a wicket," he added.
Boycott also questioned the home batters' all-out approach in the second innings. "When they batted in the second innings they went crazy. England were scoring at five and six an over but for some reason, batsmen were trying to score at more than that and got themselves out. There were five: Ben Duckett, Root, Harry Brook, Jonny Bairstow and Moeen Ali. It was unnecessary."
Boycott, however, feels that this English side is better than its Australian counterparts and can go on to win the Ashes. "Ben Stokes and Brendon McCullum have rightly received a lot of praise for the way they have changed the attitude around the England team but playing just one way is not using your brain. If we are more interested in praise than winning then we have it wrong,” he said.
Boycott added, "I and many ex-players think this England team have the beating of these Aussies. But do not waste that talent and commitment by letting it go to your head."