Brendon McCullum’s first four Tests as England’s red-ball coach has offered a glimpse into the future, which is enthralling and his approach has been a box-office hit. If Eoin Morgan’s England gave world cricket a new template in white-ball cricket, as relentless aggression replaced the old order – keeping wickets in hand before upping the ante in the slog overs, the Kiwi duo of Brendon McCullum and Ben Stokes have set a new template in the longer format.
In a conversation with Adam Gilchrist on SEN WA Breakfast, the former New Zealand captain said that team’s form can be put down to a culture where players are aiming to produce a ‘brand of cricket’ that will give themselves, and fans.
“I certainly wouldn’t say that we’ve changed the face (of Test cricket),” McCullum said.
“All we try and do is play a brand of cricket which gives the guys the greatest amount of satisfaction and gives them the best opportunity. We’ve also got an obligation to entertain.
“I think Test cricket … it’s been a challenging period for those who love the game of Test cricket because society has changed and people don’t necessarily have five days to sit down and watch cricket anymore.
“So we need to make sure that the product that we’ve got and the product that we’re taking to the people is worthy of their time and is able to captivate some of those imaginations.
“Particularly the next generation of kids who will have so many different options out there.
“So that’s one of the fundamental reasons why the guys are wanting to play this style of cricket and it seems to really resonate with them as well.
“From my point of view as a coach, it certainly resonates with me because it’s how I like to see the game played as well and same as the skipper (Stokes).
“It’s been a tremendous month (but) we know that there’s big challenges to come, one of which will be the Aussie boys (in the next Ashes in 2023), but we’ve just got to keep doing what we’re doing.”
Since his appointment, England has secured a series sweep against New Zealand and a record-breaking run chase in the rescheduled fifth Test against India.
McCullum was asked about his side’s new approach, as he interacted with reporters after England’s 3-0 clean-sweep of New Zealand. “I haven’t really thought too much about that. I just look at the players we have got and I think they fit the bill for what we are trying to achieve and the style we want to play. It’s probably not what we are after. I’m happy with what we have got at the moment anyway,” McCullum said.
After their historic triumph, Ben Stokes, England’s captain, has said there might be teams that are better than England but “no one is braver than us”. He also revealed that a bit of him wanted India to set a target of 450 to see “what they his team could do”.
“A great way to explain is that teams are perhaps better than us, but teams won’t be braver than us. Jack Leach said that to me about two minutes ago and it is a great way to sum things up at the moment,” Stokes said at the end of the game.
“There was a bit of me that wanted them to get 450,” Stokes told the BBC, “to see what they could do.
“We know what we were going to do – we knew we were always going to go out and try and chase that down from the get-go.I’m extremely proud. The last five weeks have been an incredible turnaround. The response from the team has just made it the most fun five weeks I’ve had in my team so far,” Stokes said after England chased down a historic run chase to beat India in the Edgbaston Test.