The England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB), yesterday announced former New Zealand test skipper and 100 test club player, Brendon McCullum as their men’s test team head coach. The announcement did come in a surprise call as McCullum’s name wasn’t being discussed a lot at the start of the appointment process, it only was 48 odd hours before the official announcement came in that a report from an English print media went viral that stated McCullum will soon be announced as England’s test team head coach.
Brendon McCullum retired from test cricket in 2016 and post retirement McCullum played a few T20 leagues around the globe. His last match was in 2019 playing in the Global T20 league, Canada. McCullum announced his retirement from all formats of the game early in August 2019, within a couple weeks time he was assigned the role of head coach at the Kolkata Knight Riders in the Indian Premier League (IPL) and also at it’s sister franchise, the Trinbago Knight Riders in the Caribbean Premier League (CPL).
Brendon McCullum in his first stint with the Trinbago Knight Riders (TKR) as head coach got the side to win the tournament marking a great start to his coaching debut, in 2021 he was unavailable for the role of head coach in the Caribbean. In his IPL journey as head coach, Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) finished 5th in the 2020 season where in a bold call after strings of defeats Dinesh Karthik mid season had handed captaincy to Eoin Morgan under McCullum as head coach and in the 2021 season Eoin Morgan lead Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) with McCullum as coach to the finals; despite having won only 2 out of their first 7, KKR managed a great comeback by adding 5 wins in the 2nd UAE leg. They didn’t go on to win the season, but nevertheless for a turnaround that rare head coach McCullum rightly was given a lot of credit.
That is all the coaching experience McCullum has got under his belt and it’s all come in the white ball format, the shortest format of the game. With Rob Key and ECB appointing Brendon McCullum as England’s test team head coach it’s an exciting and a brave call made, but there’s a side more to look at.
Brendon McCullum was given New Zealand’s test captaincy late in 2012 after Ross Taylor declined an offer to stay on as leader of the Test side in a split-captaincy scenario. It’s no secret that Brendon McCullum is one of the greats to have played the game, he was known for his aggressive approach and that had opposition stay on their toes when he was out in the middle. He’d given New Zealand a new tag of favorites and tuff competitors at world stage and got New Zealand cricket to great heights. He when took over captaincy got New Zealand a big name on the cricketing map with change in culture both on and off the field, the England team is currently positioned where New Zealand were in 2013 when McCullum took over so, with him in pool it’s a good call made to have a man who knows and has done the job before. Brendon McCullum in his stint as captain got New Zealand 11 test wins, 11 draws and 9 defeats, his win ratio of 37.93 % was the best by any New Zealand skipper before Kane Williamson (current skipper) took charge following his retirement in 2016.
Brendon McCullum, the batter was known for this intent and aggressive approach. In his 101 test matches (176 innings), he scored 6453 runs, has 12 centuries and 31 half centuries to his name at an average of 38.64 and had a strike rate of 64.60. He’s batted for New Zealand from 1st to 9th position in the batting order. As captain, McCullum scored 2355 runs in 31 matches (54 innings) at an average of 45.28 and a strike rate of 73.77. His best had come in 2014, where in 9 matches (16 innings) he scored 1164, averaged 72.75 at a strike rate of 72.56, the same year (2014) saw his best test knock of 302 on display v India at Wellington.
An inexperienced red ball coach with limited white ball coaching experience, who was a former great of the game is what England have on board for their reset to make England great again at test match cricket. What McCullum will offer is most likely the moral side of things, he isn’t likely to be out there teaching technique, rather he’ll be the voice, the inspiring face who’ll inject energy in that English dressing room pushing England to be up and about their best business in every session of the game. England will likely be making a few more appointments, it’ll be someone who’ll work on techniques with players struggling and give technical inputs pre game looking at the venue, maybe an assistant batting coach will be ideal.
The captain-coach bond that one talks here looks to be very fitting, it just is cut from the same cloth; be it with their attacking style of play, forward thinking and positive intent, there’s everything that McCullum and Ben Stokes will/do like about each other, what gets important here is for them to question and challenge each other to have their best out on display. England are yet to name their national selector, that’ll again be a big appointment that Rob Key is to make, a good appointment there and it’ll nearly be work done for very long.
Brendon McCullum on his first assignment as head coach of a test side has business to do, it’s to get England out of their misery and get them up in the test rankings. His first assignment will be against his very own men, Kiwi’s in less than a months time as England and New Zealand are to face each other at Lord’s on 2nd of June to get the 3 match test series underway.