New Zealand legend Brendon McCullum has emerged as the new favourite to be named England’s Test coach this week.
And the 40-year-old could form a dream team partnership with Ben Stokes as captain, as two men who have similar positive outlooks on the game and how to take it forward.
South African Gary Kirsten was believed to be the front runner for the Test job while McCullum had been mentioned as a possible coach for the white ball team thanks to his experience in charge of the Kolkata Knight Riders in the Indian Premier League and his leadership of New Zealand’s beaten 50 over World Cup finalists in 2015.
But that ignores his Test pedigree in which he played 101 times for the Blackcaps, captaining them on 31 occasions. And with perfect timing, Lord's could host a remarkable reunion with McCullum's first assignment set to be against his countrymen on June 2, with the New Zealand born Stokes leading the side.
McCullum’s name has often been used in conjunction with his good friend Eoin Morgan, England’s 50-over World Cup winning captain, and who led KKR under him last year.
Brendon McCullum scored the fastest ever Test century in his final game
He admits he took inspiration from McCullum when he revolutionised England’s white ball setup and he has been a strong influence on new managing director Rob Key too.
Key revealed that he had sought Morgan’s advice not only on white ball matters but red ball too. In his first media conference Key said: “Actually I’ve spoken to Eoin about red-ball cricket as well, not saying that he’s going to be captain, but I asked his opinion. I said you want good people with good brains around you to work stuff out, so Eoin Morgan is someone I would speak to about so many different things.”
Good friends Eoin Morgan and Brendon McCullum could have the same employer again soon
Action Images via Reuters / Henry Browne)
McCullum might have become a global superstar thanks to his white ball exploits as one of the most destructive batters in the game who launched the IPL with 158 in the first ever match.
But the former keeper batsman has an outstanding career in Test cricket behind him too, not least in terms of his leadership which built the foundations for New Zealand’s rise to the top of the red ball game by becoming the inaugural winners of the World Test Championship last year.
McCullum, along with coach Mike Hesson with whom he worked as captain, is credited with the resurgence of New Zealand cricket across all forms of cricket after controversially replacing Ross Taylor as skipper back in 2012. But it turned out to be a masterstroke as the Blackcaps began their journey towards a World Cup final and notable Test wins over India in 2014 and Sri Lanka.
McCullum retired from Test cricket in 2016, scoring the fastest ever century in the process from just 54 balls against Australia. He refers to Test cricket as the purest form of the game and clearly has huge respect for its traditions, but he was a modern player who took the game on in a positive manner wherever possible.