Business is booming.

England didn't lose at Lord's because of 'Bazball', they were simply outplayed by a better side

After the most phony wars, it was not even Bazball lost. Whisper it, but the reason England lost to South Africa in one inning was because they were outplayed by a better side with a more powerful attack.

The pre-game chatter had become so complicated that no one knew who was accusing whom of what. South Africa seemed to point out that England was talking about Bazball, while England – not talking about it at all – was annoyed that the phrase had been made up in the first place.

In the end it didn’t matter. If anything, at least according to Ben Stokes, they had deviated from the game plan that helped them achieve successful chases of 277, 299 and 296 against New Zealand and a national record of 378 against India.

South Africa defeated England at Lord's, the hosts' first innings loss in seven years

South Africa defeated England at Lord’s, the hosts’ first innings loss in seven years

The term 'Bazball', named after new head coach Brendon McCullum, has been a hot topic

The term 'Bazball', named after new head coach Brendon McCullum, has been a hot topic

The term ‘Bazball’, named after new head coach Brendon McCullum, has been a hot topic

South Africa captain Dean Elgar was critical of England's approach leading up to the match

South Africa captain Dean Elgar was critical of England's approach leading up to the match

South Africa captain Dean Elgar was critical of England’s approach leading up to the match

There was a grain of truth in that. And yet, as England lost 20 wickets in 82.4 overs – less than a day’s play – it was clear that South Africa simply hadn’t allowed them to bat with freedom.

Kagiso Rabada was sleek and world class, Anrich Nortje a fast bowling ball of fury, Marco Jansen tall, left arm and clumsy. Even Lungi Ngidi – the Ringo Starr of the four quicks – knocked out Joe Root cheaply in the second turn.

There was no delay. ‘Relentless,’ said Stokes, before half withdrawing the adjective, trying to strike a balance between giving opponents their dues and not pushing them to the forefront for Old Trafford and The Oval. And he was just right.

Where New Zealand and India attacks each had a weak link – off-spinner Michael Bracewell and medium pacer Shardul Thakur – South Africa trampled England from the moment Alex Lees drove loosely into Rabada in the second over of the game.

Anrich Nortje (right) took three wickets in the second innings to help South Africa to victory

Anrich Nortje (right) took three wickets in the second innings to help South Africa to victory

Anrich Nortje (right) took three wickets in the second innings to help South Africa to victory

Stokes' side was undone twice by a world-class South African bowling attack at Lord's

Stokes' side was undone twice by a world-class South African bowling attack at Lord's

Stokes’ side was undone twice by a world-class South African bowling attack at Lord’s

Even their spinner, Keshav Maharaj, stepped in with the wickets of Zak Crawley and Ollie Pope to kick off England’s second inning surrender.

But Bazbal? Not really. Lees’ aberration was as stubborn as England’s in their first innings 165, while Crawley’s risky sweep on Maharaj was the most premeditated from a supposedly recognized batsman in their second innings 149.

Stuart Broad may have had a slog on his 29-ball 35 on the third afternoon, but the lower order has always been a law unto itself. It’s the top seven who make the points – or not – and in this match England’s top seven couldn’t live with South Africa.

Stokes’ post-match message reflected that as well.

“We have a certain way we want to play,” he said. “We know we can be an incredibly difficult team to play against if we do that. But we can’t be great every day.’

Stokes has backed his side to turn things around in the second test at Old Trafford next week

Stokes has backed his side to turn things around in the second test at Old Trafford next week

Stokes has backed his side to turn things around in the second test at Old Trafford next week

There has been a bit of a feeling in some quarters that England expected this. Test cricket cannot be tampered with, they say. Runs should be earned the hard way, not discounted with slogans.

But that would go beyond what preceded their four wins in June and July: one win in 17, which led to Joe Root’s resignation and a general sense of despair.

Even if England played cricket more candidly, it would always end up being a cropper at some point.

Also their bowling was similar to what had happened before. Much has been given to the 80-wicket full house claimed against New Zealand and India, but less so to the fact that the average total England allowed in those eight innings was 321.

Stuart Broad was impressed with the bat, but England's bowling tactics came under criticism

Stuart Broad was impressed with the bat, but England's bowling tactics came under criticism

Stuart Broad was impressed with the bat, but England’s bowling tactics came under criticism

In this match, South Africa was eliminated for 326, with England employing exactly the same lower-order short-ball tactic that, more often than not, had worked in the previous four Tests.

Whether they should have adapted and given Jimmy Anderson the second new ball on a cloudy third morning is another matter. But the main difference here was that South Africa had pace and England – still without the injured Mark Wood and Jofra Archer – did not.

Now, after the first bump in the road, Stokes and Brendon McCullum must convince their team that they can beat South Africa in Manchester. For psychology students and cricket enthusiasts alike, the second test can’t come soon enough.

.