McCullum believes England revival will benefit Test cricket
LONDON: Newly-appointed England Test coach Brendon McCullum says improving the team’s flagging fortunes will also help secure the red-ball game’s international future. The former New Zealand captain will take charge of an England side that have won just one of their past 17 Tests, with fans hoping his partnership with new skipper Ben Stokes proves the catalyst for a revival.
English cricket chiefs are banking on McCullum, a noted limited overs as well as Test cricketer, transferring the qualities that made him a dynamic batsman and attacking leader into his first coaching job in red-ball cricket. The 40-year-old knows something about starting in difficult circumstances — in his first Test as New Zealand captain his team were bowled out for just 45 by South Africa at Cape Town in 2013.
But after that match McCullum held a “ground zero” meeting with then head coach Mike Hesson and other support staff, now widely seen as the start of New Zealand’s ascent to their current status as world Test champions. “Test cricket has always been the pinnacle for me and maybe the popularity of it has somehow trended south of late,” McCullum said in an interview with the England and Wales Cricket Board’s media channels.
“If red-ball cricket is to not just sustain but to thrive, it needs England to be playing an attractive brand of Test cricket, which is competing with Australia, India, New Zealand.”
“It’s a big, lofty goal but it’s what is in front of us,” added McCullum, a huge influence on the leadership style of 2019 England World Cup-winning captain Eoin Morgan, a close friend. McCullum, whose opening assignment as England’s Test coach will be a three-match series against his native New Zealand, starting at Lord’s on June 2, said his aim was to get England back to the “top of the pile”.
England managing director Rob Key said Wednesday that the new coach has more to him than playing crowd-pleasing cricket, adding that McCullum also values players who can demonstrate resilience in the longer format. McCullum promised England supporters their team would be one “worth following” if he and the similarly minded Stokes achieved their ambitions.
“Hopefully we can play that kind of entertaining — I won’t say cavalier, because that’s probably what other people expect us to do — cricket. “It’s a pretty simple philosophy but if we get that right, with the talent that exists in the English cricket set-up, hopefully we’ll get results to go in the right direction and build something together.”