Brendon McCullum Not Afraid Of England Challenges With Ben Stokes As Captain

At Lord's, the new head coach spoke about his new captain, Jimmy Anderson and Stuart Broad
11:00, 30 May 2022

Brendon McCullum strolled around Lord’s, soaking up the ‘Home of Cricket’ as if he didn’t have a care in the world.

But England’s new Test head coach will know deep down that he has gigantic task on his hands, not least because England’s miserable run of form has seen them win just once in their last 17 Test matches.

England were the No 1 ranked Test nation in the world by the end of a stunning summer in 2011, but a hell of a lot has changed in just over a decade, especially an alarming run of results.

McCullum was in London to speak to the media ahead of what promises to be a gripping – and potentially pivotal – summer of cricket.

Not least because it’s New Zealand, his native country, who England face in the first Test match of the summer.

The world Test champions are a challenge for anyone, let alone in England in their current predicament.

But McCullum teased: “If we expect New Zealand to play well, then that means we'll have to play a little bit better.

“I obviously have knowledge of the New Zealand guys, we've been on a lot of great journeys together, but I have a job to do here.

“I’ll look after the guys inside the environment as well and try and allow them to really grow at a speed which they might not have got to previously, so it’s a big challenge.

 “I’m confident in the skills that I’ve got and I’m confident in the group that we have to start things off as well.

“Obviously it might take a little while to become completely adjusted to the methods and the ways over here and it might take some time for guys to become adjusted to me as well, but “I’m looking forward to it. For me it was a big risk taken by everyone but, for me, you don’t get anywhere unless you take risks.”

One of his country’s greatest cricketers, McCullum is well-known for his no-nonsense, eye-catching brand of attacking cricket.

But having hung up his bat after a fine career, now is time to see whether he can really cut the mustard at the top level.

He led New Zealand to the 2015 World Cup final in Australia and, if his coaching methods inspire confidence like he showed with the bat, then England could be a real treat to watch.

“I think, for me, red-ball cricket has always been the pinnacle of the sport, if you look at where the game sits currently, it’s probably on a bit of a downward trend and to me the nation that can really change that is England,” reflected the 40-year-old, capped 101 times by his country.

“Because of the tradition of Test cricket here in England and I guess the fan following and the support that it gets in this country. For us to be competitive in Test cricket, I think will go a long way in trying to be able to hopefully just shift that a little bit in terms of the perception of red-ball cricket moving forward.

“I certainly don’t coach technically. I understand the technique obviously but for me it’s more around tactics and man-management and trying to provide the right environment for the team to try and go out there and be the best versions of themselves.

“So I think with Stokesy [Ben Stokes] as captain we’ve got a really strong leader, a ‘follow me’ type of captain and so I think my job will be to try and ensure that we’re consistent with a lot of our messaging. 


“I’m very different as a coach to how I was as a player. I like to allow guys to get where they to, to realise their potential rather than play how I played.

“It’s not for everyone, that style, but your job as coach is to understand everyone’s games, understand them as people and get to know them and understand their aspirations.

“I’ll be trying to get these guys who have an immense amount of talent, playing to their potential, playing for one another, and being a good representation of England.

“Hopefully we will be able to achieve some good stuff along the way, and certainly in time we can get to No.1, challenge for the Ashes and be up there when talking about the best teams in the world.

“It is going to take time and we have a long way to go, but there is enough talent around English cricket for us to be successful.”

And McCullum revealed he is keen to keep a settled side as much as possible, with world-class bowlers James Anderson and Stuart Broad very much part of his plans.

Anderson and Broad, who have taken an staggering 1,117 wickets between them across 321 games, were surprisingly dropped from England’s Test side for their recent series defeat to the West Indies in the Caribbean.

But McCullum wants to utilise the proven pace aces as much as possible, especially give their fine track record

"I'll probably get in trouble here, but I like to pick the best team every time,” admitted McCullum.

"My job will be to plan as if you'll live forever, but live as if you'll die tomorrow.

“Jimmy and Broady can work together, they have had successful careers together. 

"There might have been times when the combination might not have been as good as everyone hoped, but there are circumstances around that - there might not have been enough runs, or they were bowling in benign conditions. 

“I'm certainly not against picking them together."

And McCullum is also incredibly excited about working closely with new skipper Stokes, a player with the same naturally attacking instinct he always had.

"He's going to be a wonderful leader," offered McCullum.

"He plays the game how I like it to be played and puts bums on seats.

"He might fly. He might grab the captaincy and go to a whole new level again. We'll just play what we see and feel in that moment, and I'm sure the relationship between Stokesy and I will really flourish."

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