LONDON: Cricket fans have been instructed to ‘buckle up and get ready for the ride’ after the appointment of former New Zealand captain Brendon McCullum as the head coach of the England men’s Test team was confirmed.
His appointment comes following a host of changes around the England men’s team after a string of poor results in the longest format. England has won one of their last 17 Tests and sunk to their lowest ICC ranking since 1995.
Rob Key was appointed the Managing Director of the men’s team and his first order of business was to hand the captaincy of the longest format to Ben Stokes, after Joe Root stepped down following the 1-0 series loss in the West Indies.
McCullum’s appointment comes after Chris Silverwood departed from the role, following the 4-0 drubbing in the Ashes away. It means the England men’s coaching duties have now been split, with separate coaches for red and white-ball cricket.
McCullum, who will step down from his role as Kolkata Knight Riders’ head coach at the end of the ongoing IPL, played 101 Tests for New Zealand between 2004 and 2016, scoring 6453 runs at 38.64 with a highest score of 302 against India in 2014, which remains the only triple-century made by a New Zealander.
Rob Key, England’s director of men’s cricket, acknowledged that McCullum’s appointment was a calculated gamble, adding that it was “time for us all to buckle up and get ready for the ride”, but praised his proven ability to change team cultures.
“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 an ECB press release.
He further 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.”
“I’ve enjoyed several robust conversations with Rob Key about the direction of travel for the team and have found his enthusiasm contagious. I’m no stranger to bringing about change within a team environment, and I can’t wait to get started,” he added.
Talking about newly appointed Test captain, McCullum said, “Ben Stokes is the perfect character to inspire change around him, and I look forward to working closely with him to build a successful unit around us.”
McCullum had initially been earmarked for England’s white-ball coaching role, not least because of his close personal and professional relationship with the captain Eoin Morgan – he was master of ceremonies at Morgan’s wedding in 2018 and last year the pair guided KKR to the IPL final.
However, once it became clear he was interested in the Test job, McCullum emerged as the unanimous choice of an ECB selection panel comprising Key, CEO Tom Harrison, performance director Mo Bobat, and Andrew Strauss, who is a strategic advisor to the board having stood down from his interim MD role in the wake of Key’s appointment.
England’s white-ball team is not in action until their three-match ODI series against the Netherlands which starts on June 17, and so there is less urgency in filling the second of England’s coaching vacancies.
Candidates for that role include Gary Kirsten – who had been among the frontrunners for the Test role – alongside the Australia women’s coach Matthew Mott and Paul Collingwood, who filled the interim coaching role for both the red- and white-ball legs of England’s recent tour of the Caribbean.