‘Get ready for the ride’: Brendon McCullum named new England test coach

Brendon McCullum’s first task as England coach will be a three-test series against New Zealand, starting on June 2. Picture: STUFF SPORTS.

Brendon McCullum has been confirmed as the new head coach of the England men’s cricket team.

The 40-year-old former Black Caps captain replaces Chris Silverwood, who left his position in February in the wake of England’s 4-0 Ashes humiliation in Australia.

McCullum’s first task as England coach will be a series against New Zealand, “subject to obtaining the necessary work visa”, the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) said.

Ben Stokes hopes career experiences will help him as England test captain

Ben Stokes hopes the ups and downs of his England career will help him make a success of the test captaincy.

The first of three tests begins at Lord’s on June 2.

England then face India in the rescheduled fifth test in July before three tests against South Africa in August and September.

McCullum’s appointment comes after Christchurch-born Ben Stokes was named as England’s new captain.

“I’d like to say how pleased I am to be given this opportunity to positively contribute to England’s test cricket set-up and move the team forward into a more successful era,” McCullum said.

“In taking this role on, I am acutely aware of the significant challenges the team faces at present, and I strongly believe in my ability to help the team emerge as a stronger force once we’ve confronted them head-on.”

Managing director of England’s Men’s Cricket Rob Key said McCullum had a history of changing cricket culture and environments for the better.

“He is the person to do that for England’s red-ball cricket,” Key said.

“I believe in Brendon and Ben Stokes – a formidable coach and captain partnership. Time for us all to buckle up and get ready for the ride.”

McCullum said Stokes was “the perfect character to inspire change around him”.

McCullum played 101 tests for the Black Caps, captaining the team in 31 tests, 62 ODIs and 28 T20s and leading them to the 2015 ODI World Cup final, where they were beaten by Australia.

He scored 6453 runs during his test career at an average of 38.64, with 12 centuries – including the fastest of all time, off just 54 balls against Australia in 2016.

England are still searching for a coach to lead the white-ball teams, with Paul Collingwood the favourite to assume the role.

McCullum was heavily linked with the limited-overs position, but said on his SENZ radio show with former All Black Israel Dagg that he was only interested in the test role.

“I looked at the two roles, and the white ball didn’t interest me as such because I think the team is still flying, they are one of the best teams in the world, they are obviously world champions as well after winning the 2019 World Cup,” McCullum said.

“They’ve got Eoin Morgan in there who is a very good friend of mine and has also built a structure and a system which will continue well after he finishes playing.

“So I wasn’t really interested in a cushy kind of gig. For me, if you’re prepared to change your life for something, then it’s got to be something a bit grunty, a little bit meaty. And the challenge of bringing a team that is rock bottom at the moment out of that situation and try and build something that’s long-term, sustainable and successful, that was more where the challenge lay.

“Plus, I love test cricket, and the opportunity to coach England … it became so appealing for those reasons.

“If we can get the England side to a level where, people want to watch it, they want to watch us play test cricket because of the style of play, because of the personalities that you have involved, because it’s entertaining, then test cricket has got a chance of not just surviving, but also thriving.”

Former England batter Mark Ramprakash told the BBC that McCullum’s appointment was a risk given his lack of coaching experience.

“McCullum’s lack of experience means this is thinking outside the box but Key must feel he has the personality to help inspire the test side,” Ramprakash said.

“McCullum always talks about wanting to take the positive option, but he will need to have a little bit more meat on the bone, in terms of tactics, for England’s test side.

“It will be McCullum’s job, along with Stokes, to find some continuity and get the team playing better cricket.”

However, Australian cricket commentator Jim Maxwell believed his appointment was the “most exciting” England had made in 140 years of test cricket.

“He’s still going to need the personnel to deliver but it’s tantalising, it’s exciting and English fans should be relishing having Stokes and McCullum, two of the most dynamic and inspirational people, in charge,” Maxwell said.

“This is potentially one of the best things to have happened in English cricket.”

On his SENZ radio show, McCullum discussed how the chance to coach England’s test team came about and admitted it was an opportunity too good to turn down.

“Rob Key rang me and said would you be interested in looking at this [role], and would you go through this process? I was like, ‘yeah I’ll go through it, I’m pretty comfortable’. And then as it got a little closer and we went through the formalities of it, it kind of smacked me in the head and I said, ‘this is something I think I could really do’,” McCullum explained.

“And what an opportunity. What a chance in your life to be able to make a sizeable change and difference to a country as big as what England is.

“For me, test cricket is on a downward trend, in regards to popularity and where it sits. Whilst I was lucky enough to have a career in franchise cricket and white-ball cricket and all of that, test cricket is my real love.

“I sort of look at it and think if anyone is going to reinvigorate test cricket and get it popular again, and try and attract the next generation of people, then it’s going to be England.

“So if you can be at the real forefront of that, by playing an attractive brand of cricket which you play with a smile on your face and you try and entertain, then test cricket has got a chance.

“Once you sort of stripped all that out, I was like ‘crikey, I’ve got to give this a crack if they think I’m the right person.

“It all happened very quickly, but I’m obviously very humbled and delighted to be in the chair.”

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