McCullum 'trying to make heroes of' England Test team

By Sports Desk June 27, 2022

Brendon McCullum has been happy to take a back seat so far as England head coach, even if 'Bazball' has revitalised the struggling Test team in the space of a single series.

McCullum says he does not know what 'Bazball' is – the term given to England's entertaining style under their new coach – but there can be no doubting its effectiveness.

After winning one Test in 17, England have strung together three in a row in a whitewash of world champions New Zealand.

With a new captain, too, in Ben Stokes, the side have come out on the front foot and been rewarded with three superb victories – each including chases of more than 250 runs, a first for a team in a single Test series.

Despite his impact, McCullum had stayed out of the media limelight until after a dominant day five at Headingley on Monday.

Speaking to Sky Sports, the New Zealand great – who described the early weeks of his tenure as "a really cool ride" – explained his rationale.

"It's the players who achieve wins and losses," he said. "You just try to do your best; you always support them through some tough times, and the last thing you need is the coach standing front and centre as well.

"I'll do the media when we lose, but I think it's important these guys are recognised for the success they've been able to achieve.

"We're trying to make heroes of them, you know? We're trying to make not just great cricketers but role models for the people out there who want to fall in love with this game or are already in love with this game."

England already had at least one hero in superstar all-rounder Stokes, who is a great fit for the new coach and new tactics as the leader of a team "thirsty for change".

"I'm aggressive, but I reckon he might have me covered," McCullum.

"He came in last night [after bowling New Zealand out on day four] – I think we needed 297 or something [296] off 40 overs [before the close of play] – and said: 'We'll just knock it off tonight!'

"'We get the extra half-hour as well, 47 overs, that's only seven an over'; I said: 'Skipper, let's just see how we go on.'

"He's been absolutely outstanding; he's clearly a leader that the guys want to follow. He's so consistent with his messaging as well, no matter how much is on the line.

"In those key moments, when you see guys in the dressing room look around to see if he's going to stay on that same message, he's very much there."

Stokes and McCullum will hope his captaincy can be as successful as that of white-ball skipper Eoin Morgan, who is set to announce his retirement from international cricket on Tuesday.

Morgan led Stokes and the rest of the limited-overs team to Cricket World Cup glory in 2019 but has had an impact far beyond England, according to his close friend McCullum.

"He's going to go down as one of the most influential figures not just in English cricket but in world cricket," the coach said.

"For the approach which he's undertaken when he took over the job as England captain and what he's been able to do to change the entire attitude and style of cricket that they played.

"It's had impacts right around the world, and he's won a World Cup and taken these guys on a journey.

"You look at guys like Jos Buttler, Jason Roy, Jonny Bairstow, Ben Stokes, these guys are absolute international superstars, and they've been able to become those players under the leadership of Eoin Morgan."

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