Brendon McCullum says task of improving ‘rock bottom’ England is why he took job | Sunday Observer

Brendon McCullum says task of improving ‘rock bottom’ England is why he took job

15 May, 2022
 Brendon McCullum
Brendon McCullum

Brendon McCullum says the challenge of improving a team at “rock bottom” and his love of Test cricket made him want to be England men’s red-ball coach.

The New Zealander was appointed on Thursday in his first coaching role in international or red-ball cricket.

He takes over a side winless in nine Tests, and who have won only one of their past 17 matches.

“If you are prepared to change your life it has got to be something a bit grunty, a little bit meaty,” he said.

“And the challenge of bringing a team that is rock bottom at the moment and building something long-term, sustainable and successful... that is more where the challenge lay.”

McCullum, who is currently in charge of Indian Premier League side Kolkata Knight Riders, faces his first Test as England head coach at Lord’s on 2 June against New Zealand, the team he used to captain.

He was initially approached for the position of England’s white-ball coach but will lead in the format in which he played 101 times for his country between 2004 and 2016.

“The white-ball didn’t interest me as such because the team is flying - they are one of the best in the world and obviously world champions as well,” McCullum said on his SENZ radio show.

“They have Eoin Morgan in there who is a very good friend of mine who has built a structure and system that will continue well after he finishes playing as well.

“I wasn’t interested in a cushy gig.

“Plus I love Test cricket and the opportunity to coach England and spend a lot of time around those grounds and traditions and history of the game, it became so appealing.”

McCullum, who scored 6,453 Test runs at an average of 38.64 - with 12 hundreds including the fastest Test century of all time - was an aggressive international captain in all formats.

He captained the Black Caps to the 2015 50-over World Cup final, where they were beaten by Australia, but his spell as Test captain started a resurgence that eventually saw them win the World Test Championship last year under his successor Kane Williamson.

His appointment continues England’s overhaul after a 4-0 Ashes defeat, with Rob Key having taken over as managing director last month and Ben Stokes appointed captain after the resignation of Joe Root.

They have dropped to sixth in the world rankings and have their lowest points total in the ranking system for 27 years.

“The style of play has been questioned as well,” McCullum said.

“That gives me the opportunity to try to carve a path with another Kiwi (New Zealand-born Stokes) and try to bring in real freshness.

“The way Ben Stokes plays the game is similar to how I played the game and love coaching the game.

“That is to play with a bit of freedom and put pressure back on the opposition. “That is a big challenge in itself to try to pull everyone together to get them to believe in the direction we are heading.”

(BBC sport)